Following questions about the veracity of multiple papers by his former employer, high-profile social psychologist Jens Förster has agreed to retract two papers as part of a deal with the German Society for Psychology (DGPs).
Last year, Förster had a paper retracted at the request of his former employer, the University of Amsterdam (UvA). In May, an investigation commissioned by UvA found that many of his experiments looked “too good to be true,” and eight papers showed strong signs of “low veracity.”
Just two of those papers are acknowledged in the settlement of a case by the DGPs against Förster, who currently works at Ruhr University Bochum. Here’s a translation of a notice from the DGPs from One Hour Translation:
In the Court of Honor suit with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Pscyhologie (DGPs) e.V. [German Society for Psychology, registered association] as complainant and Prof. Dr. Jens Förster as respondent, both parties reached a settlement on November 9, 2015 in an oral negotiation.
Accordingly, the Court of Honor suit of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Pscyhologie against Prof. Dr. Jens Förster has been discontinued. Prof. Förster undertakes to ensure the publishers of the Journal of Experimental Psychology will withdraw both of the following publications:
Förster, J. (2009). Relations between perceptual and conceptual scope: how global versus local processing fits a focus on similarity versus dissimilarity. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 138 (1), 88-111.Http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0014484
Förster, J. (2011). Local and global cross-modal influences between vision and hearing, tasting, smelling, or touching. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 140 (3), 364-389. Dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0023175
This settlement does not represent either an admission of fault by Prof. Förster nor an accusation of fault by the Court of Honor.
The 2009 paper has been cited 78 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge; the 2011 paper has been cited 16 times.
We’re not sure what this means for the other papers flagged by the UvA report. We’ve contacted the UvA to see if they have any reaction to the findings.
This summer, Förster posted a response to the UvA report on his website, in which he denied accusations of data fabrication:
I never manipulated data and never motivated my collaborators to do anything that is ethically questionable.
We have also reached out to DGPs and to Förster for more information; we’ll update this post with whatever else we learn.
In the meantime, we’ve also unearthed a correction for another paper of Förster’s in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, which was not flagged in the UvA report: “Seeing love, or seeing lust: How people interpret ambiguous romantic situations,” which has been cited five times. This correction was published last year:
Original text (Study 2, Results and discussion, p. 1018):
Participants for whom a high level of construal was activated thought the couple was in love (M = 4.58, SD = 1.68) than as a sexual encounter (M = 3.53, SD = 1.89), t(55) = 2.42,p = .02. However, participants for whom a low level of construal was activated the situation was perceived more in terms of sex (M = 3.30, SD = 1.20) than love (M = 4.16,SD = 1.71), t(55) = 1.94, p = .057.
Participants for whom a high level of construal was activated thought the couple was in love (M = 4.58, SD = 1.68) rather than having a sexual encounter (M = 3.53, SD = 1.89),t(55) = 2.42, p = .02. However, participants for whom a low level of construal was activated the situation was perceived more in terms of sex (M = 4.16, SD = 1.71) than love (M = 3.30, SD = 1.20), t(55) = 1.94, p = .057.
Hat tip: Rolf Degen
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