Following investigation, Erasmus social psychology professor retracts two studies, resigns
The social psychology community, already rocked last year by the Diederik Stapel scandal, now has another set of allegations to dissect. Dirk Smeesters, a professor of consumer behavior and society at the Rotterdam School of Management, part of Erasmus University, has resigned amid serious questions about his work.
According to an Erasmus press release, a scientific integrity committee found that the results in two of Smeesters’ papers were statistically highly unlikely. Smeesters could not produce the raw data behind the findings, and told the committee that he cherry-picked the data to produce a statistically significant result. Those two papers are being retracted, and the university accepted Smeesters’ resignation on June 21.
The release also takes pains to say that the university has no reason to doubt the work of his co-authors. You can read the complete report in Dutch, with Smeesters’ co-authors’ names blacked out, in an NRC Handelsblad story.
Erasmus tells Retraction Watch that these are the two papers being retracted:
- Johnson, C.S., Smeesters, D.H.R.V. & Wheeler, S.C. (2012). Visual perspective influences the use of metacognitive information in temporal comparisons. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
- Smeesters, D.H.R.V. & Liu, J. (2011). The effect of color (red versus blue) on assimilation versus contrast in prime-to-behavior effects. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 47(3), 653-656.
Smeesters has a total of six papers listed in PubMed, and 23 listed in Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge. According to the latter, his most-cited paper is 2003’s “Do not prime hawks with doves: The interplay of construct activation and consistency of social value orientation on cooperative behavior,” published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology and cited 57 times. One of his recent papers was on the effectiveness of cosmetic advertising.
Smeesters does not appear to have worked with Stapel, but one of the papers Smeesters is retracting shares a co-author, Camille Johnson, with a Stapel paper subject to an Expression of Concern. Again, the Erasmus report said there is no reason to doubt the work of Smeesters’ co-authors, and last month, Leonard Newman told us that Basic and Applied Social Psychology is not likely to retract the Stapel-Johnson paper:
The Johnson article has not been retracted yet because the committees have not found this article to be fraudulent. If they do, we will retract the article. But based on (1) the fact that a number of papers Stapel published with Johnson have already been investigated, and (2) informal communication with the co-author involved, I do not anticipate another retraction.
Here’s Smeesters’ bio from his Erasmus homepage, which has been taken down:
DirkSmeesters is a Professor of Marketing at the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University, the Netherlands, where he teaches courses on Marketing Management and Experimental Methods. He received his BA, MA, and PhD in Psychology from the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium. His research on unconscious influences on human perception and behavior, the psychology of money, social comparison, and mortality salience has been published in the leading academic marketing and psychology journals, such as the Journal of Consumer Research, Journal of Marketing Research, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, and Psychological Science. He serves as an Associate Editor for the Journal of Consumer Research and the International Journal of Research in Marketing. His research has been covered by media including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Time Magazine, Business Week, ABCNews.com, national radio channels (in the Netherlands, Belgium, USA), and various local news papers.
Thanks to a number of Retraction Watch readers who flagged this item for us.
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