When Psych Research Doesn’t Hold Up

Stephanie M. Lee | Buzzfeed

More than 400 psychologists worldwide are teaming up to fight a looming problem in their field: headline-making research that doesn’t hold up.

As part of a new network called the Psychological Science Accelerator, the researchers are trying to fix the so-called replication crisis that’s punctured splashy findings, from Diederik Stapel’s fabricated claims that messy environments lead to discrimination, to Brian Wansink’s retracted studies about eating behavior. Small sample sizes, one-off experiments, and flawed data-crunching are just some of the problems to blame.

So at the Accelerator, scientists will select a handful of influential studies, attempt to redo them, and share their results with the public, whether or not they’re able to reproduce the original finding. By collecting lots of data at lots of different sites—more than 230 labs across six continents are involved—the researchers hope to verify how robust, and how broadly applicable to different kinds of people, these discoveries actually are.

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