Archive for the ‘psychology’ Category
A new group of experts is suggesting there’s something fishy in the body of work of social psychologist Jens Förster.
The University of Amsterdam, Förster’s former employer, commissioned three statistical experts to examine his publication record, looking for signs that the data are not authentic.
Well, they found some signs:
Psychology has been home to some of the most infamous cases of fraud in recent years, and while it’s just a few bad apples who are spoiling the bunch, the field itself has seen an overall increase in retractions, according to a new paper by Jürgen Margraf appearing in Psychologische Rundschau and titled “Zur Lage der Psychologie.”
That increase, Margraf found, is not entirely due to its most well-known fraudsters. Here’s the relevant figure:
The paper, “Preference for immediate reinforcement over delayed reinforcement: relation between delay discounting and health behavior,” was written by Shane Melanko and Kevin Larkin. It examined whether people who place less importance on the future were also less likely to adopt healthy behaviors, which come with delayed benefits. Melanko, then a doctoral candidate under Larkin, was evidently at one time a psychology student of some promise.
A retraction has appeared for Jens Förster, the former University of Amsterdam social psychologist whose work has come under serious scrutiny by two official committees.
Here’s the notice for 2012’s “Sense Creative! The Impact of Global and Local Vision, Hearing, Touching, Tasting and Smelling on Creative and Analytic Thought,” a paper which first appeared in Social Psychological and Personality Science:
Read the rest of this entry »
An expression of concern has been issued for the second of three papers on the idea that, if you have three positive emotions for every negative one, you will be more successful in life.
Psychologist Barbara Fredrickson, of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, has spent the last decade building a brand around this ratio, initially described by a mathematical equation based on fluid dynamics by mathematician Marcial Losada. You can read our coverage of the debunking of that equation, presented in a 1999 paper that has been cited nearly 1,700 times, here.
Nick Brown, co-author with Alan Sokal on the paper that discredited the Losada equation, has written a blog post on the current state of affairs. He also got in touch with us regarding the expression of concern for a 2004 article in American Behavioral Scientist that he had also questioned, “The Role of Positivity and Connectivity in the Performance of Business Teams: A Nonlinear Dynamic Model”: Read the rest of this entry »
Science reported last week that Jens Förster, the former University of Amsterdam social psychologist embroiled in data fabrication controversy, may have stumbled in his defense by muddling the timeline of his disputed studies in public statements.
The real challenge to Förster’s timeline may lie in e-mails between him and Pieter Verhoeven, his research assistant at UvA from September 2008 to June 2009, who made the correspondence available to Förster’s accuser. In it, the two discuss how to conduct what are evidently the same experiments Förster’s blog declares were completed much earlier in Bremen. For instance, among the stimuli used are three unintelligible audio recordings, which the 2011 paper says were described to the subjects as “Moldavian” poems. In an 18 May 2009 e-mail, Verhoeven comes up with the idea to describe the poem that way, rather than as Malaysian, because the reader of the poem has a German accent.
But in a yet another lengthy open letter to colleagues and friends, Förster insists that he conducted the studies in Germany before coming to the University of Amsterdam. And he hints darkly at the end that those seeking to cast doubt on his research may be doing so for personal gain: Read the rest of this entry »
“Misrepresentation,” “reckless disregard for basic scientific standards”: Hauser report reveals details of misconduct
Courtesy of a Freedom of Information Act request, The Boston Globe has a very good piece detailing what investigators found had actually happened in the Marc Hauser lab before the former Harvard psychology researcher resigned in 2011 and was found guilty of misconduct by the Office of Research Integrity (ORI) in 2012.
The Globe requested the 2010 report Harvard sent the ORI. Here’s a summary:
The 85-page report details instances in which Hauser changed data so that it would show a desired effect. It shows that he more than once rebuffed or downplayed questions and concerns from people in his laboratory about how a result was obtained. The report also describes “a disturbing pattern of misrepresentation of results and shading of truth” and a “reckless disregard for basic scientific standards.”
The Globe quotes key passages from the report: Read the rest of this entry »
Dirk Smeesters, the former Erasmus University psychology researcher found to have committed misconduct, is up to half a dozen retractions.
Both notices, in the Journal of Consumer Research, where Smeesters has already had one retraction, are paywalled. Here’s one, for a paper cited seven times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge: Read the rest of this entry »