“Fraud committed by any social psychologist diminishes all social psychologists”: New Sanna, Smeesters retractions
Three new retractions — two of papers by Lawrence Sanna and one of work by Dirk Smeesters — have appeared in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. The retractions come along with a hard-hitting piece by the journal’s editor.
In a tough soul-searching editorial called “On Fraud, Deceit, and Ethics” (unfortunately only available behind a paywall), journal editor in chief Joel Cooper writes that “Fraud committed by any social psychologist diminishes all social psychologists.” He continues:
The overwhelming preponderance of investigations in our field is impeccably honest and fastidious. It is the way we were trained and the way we train our students. We cut our metaphorical teeth on being creative with ideas but respecting what our data tell us about those ideas. We trust each other to act with respect to the data we collect and to the analyses we perform.
On rare occasion, that trust is betrayed. No one can get into the minds of those who act unscrupulously. Perhaps it is self-aggrandizement, self-promotion or self-delusion that motivates some to betray our trust. Like other major journals in our field, JESP has been betrayed.
The Sanna retractions are for “Rising up to higher virtues: Experiencing elevated physical height uplifts prosocial actions,” published in 2010 and cited 4 times since, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge, and “Think and act globally, think and act locally: Cooperation depends on matching construal to action levels in social dilemmas,” also originally published in 2010 and cited 6 times.
Sanna resigned from his post at the University of Michigan in May of last year. These are his sixth and seventh retractions, by our count.
The Smeesters retraction is of “The effect of color (red versus blue) on assimilation versus contrast in prime-to-behavior effects,” published in 2011 and cited just once, by a Nature profile of Uri Simonsohn, the social psychologist who investigated the work of both researchers.
Smeesters resigned his Erasmus professorship last July. This is his fourth retraction.
Hat tip: Rolf Degen