Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

We’re up to 13: Retractions keep coming for Diederik Stapel

with 10 comments

The retraction count is up to 13 for Dutch psychology fraudster Diederik Stapel, with four more in the publications the Journal of Consumer Research, Motivation & Emotion, Psychology & Marketing, and Social Cognition.

Here are the notices:

From the Journal of Consumer Research, a paper cited twice, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

It has come to our attention that “The Self-Activation Effect of Advertisements: Ads Can Affect Whether and How Consumers Think about the Self,” by Debra Trampe, Diederik A. Stapel, and Frans W. Siero, which appeared in the April 2011 issue of the Journal of Consumer Research (vol. 37, no. 6), contained fraudulent data that had been manipulated and at times fabricated by Diederik A. Stapel. This has been determined by a joint investigation by the Universities of Tilburg, Groningen, and Amsterdam. We are therefore informing our readers that this article has been retracted. We apologize for any problems that the publication of this article may have caused.

From Motivation & Emotion, a paper cited twice:

The article “Happiness as alchemy: Positive mood leads to self-serving responses to social comparisons” by Camille S. Johnson and Diederik A. Stapel has been retracted from publication at the request of the first author.

We at Motivation and Emotion were informed of the need to retract the article from the scientific literature on October 13, 2011. Our decision to issue this retraction was based on the October 31, 2011, report and recommendation from Tilburg University’s Levelt committee, which found that contributions to the paper by the second author were based on fictitious data or fictitious scientific studies.

From Psychology & Marketing, a paper cited three times:

The following article from Psychology & Marketing, “Beauty as a tool: The effect of model attractiveness, product relevance, and elaboration likelihood on advertising effectiveness” by Trampe, D., Stapel, D. A., Siero, F. W., & Mulder, H. published online on 4 Nov. 2010 in Wiley Online Library (, has been retracted by agreement between the authors, the journal Editor-in-Chief, Ronald Jay Cohen, and Wiley Periodicals, Inc. following the results of an investigation into the work of Diederik A. Stapel ( The Levelt Committee has determined that this article contained data that was fabricated as supplied by Diederik A. Stapel. His co-authors were unaware of his actions, and not in any way involved.

From Social Cognition, a paper cited once:

The following article is being retracted from publication in Social Cognition: “The Mental Roots of System Justification: System Threat, Need for Structure, and Stereotyping” by Diederik A. Stapel and Marret K. Noordewier, 29(3), 238-254, doi: 10.1521/soco.2011.29.3.238

The Editor and Publishers of Social Cognition have jointly determined to retract the article. For further details, please visit the following link:

  • YouKnowBestOfAll August 17, 2012 at 10:26 am

    Obviously retractions are like so many other things in life:
    The 1-st time is the most difficult one, and after that every next one is easier than the previous.

    This probably explains WHY authors/editors/publishers/institutions are so-o-ooooo reluctant to do the right thing.

  • SF August 17, 2012 at 11:17 am

    And at least 27 to go…

    By the way, can book chapters be retracted? And if so, what is a proper way to communicate this?

    • Jon Beckmann August 17, 2012 at 11:47 am

      Just burn the book! :)

    • ivanoransky August 17, 2012 at 11:49 am

      Interesting question re: book chapters. We’ve reported on at least one such case:

      • SF August 17, 2012 at 2:35 pm

        Doesn’t seem really convincing to me: only notifying the other contributors. What about the readers? And with plagiarism, at least the texts itself are still correct; in the Stapel fraud case the texts are just plain wrong.

        And a similar question is how to retract chapters from dissertations? Or even more painful, a complete dissertation?

        Interesting to see what, if anything, happens to the book chapters in which fraud has been determined:

        Stapel, D.A., (2007). In the mind of the beholder: The interpretation comparison model of accessibility effects. In D.A. Stapel & J.Suls (Eds.) Assimilation and contrast in social psychology (p 313-327). New York, NY, USA: Psychology Press.

        Ruys, K.I., Stapel, D.A. & Aarts, H. (2011). From (unconscious) perception to emotion: A global-to-specific unfolding view of emotional responding. In I. Nyklicek, A.J.J.M. Vingerhoets, & M. Zeelenberg (Eds.), Emotion regulation and well-being (pp.49-66). New York: Springer.

        Stapel, D.A. (2011). Priming as proxy: Understanding the subjectivity of social life. In K.C. Klauer, A. Voss and C. Stahl (Eds.), Cognitive methods in social psychology (pp. 148-183). New York Guilford Publications.

        Ok, why not find out myself? For the first two book chapters I couldn’t find anything in a quick internet search, but for the third book chapter a retraction has been placed at the site of the publisher (also visible at the Amazon page of the bok):

        “Note: The hardcover edition of this book contained a chapter titled “Priming as Proxy: Understanding the Subjectivity of Social Life,” by D. A. Stapel. This chapter has been retracted by joint decision of the publisher and the book’s editors. Please see (item 49) for further details.”

        So, I think there is a second case of a retraction of a book chapter…

    • failuretoreplicant August 17, 2012 at 3:42 pm

      Those who purchased the book should be offered a full or partial refund.

      Science journalist Jonah Lehrer’s publisher offered a full refund when it turned out that a lot of his book “Imagine” was imaginary.

  • chirality August 17, 2012 at 11:13 pm

    Nobody seems able to escape the colon in titles…
    Stapel is particularly fond of the colon. Probably because it is where his raw data typically originate.

    • Jon Beckmann August 18, 2012 at 6:15 am

      That’s because they use the first few words to set up the shock and awe claim (for faddy journals like Psychological Science, that is what they demand), followed by the more technical and boring description.

  • Ted Dibble August 19, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    Regarding the paper from “Motivation & Emotion”: the retraction notice says they were notified October 13 of last year of the need to retract. Why did it take them 10 months to retract?

    • Marco August 19, 2012 at 1:04 pm

      The retraction was published online December 25, 2011, according to the retraction notice. The “paper” version (with volume numbers, etc) would always be later than that. Apparently, Motivation & Emotion is one of those journals with a very long backlog of papers still to be published “in print”, resulting in the long time between the online retraction and the printed retraction.

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