Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘psychology’ Category

Oregon grad student admits to faking data in four neuroscience papers

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oriweb_logoA graduate student at the University of Oregon in Eugene has admitted to faking data that appeared in four published papers in the field of visual working memory, according to the Office of Research Integrity.

David Anderson’s supervisor at the time was Edward Awh, who has since moved to the University of Chicago.

Anderson told Retraction Watch that the misconduct stemmed from “an error in judgment”:

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“To our horror”: Widely reported study suggesting divorce is more likely when wives fall ill gets axed

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home_coverA widely reported finding that the risk of divorce increases when wives fall ill — but not when men do — is invalid, thanks to a short string of mistaken coding that negates the original conclusions, published in the March issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior.

The paper, “In Sickness and in Health? Physical Illness as a Risk Factor for Marital Dissolution in Later Life,” garnered coverage in many news outlets, including The Washington Post, New York magazine’s The Science of Us blog, The Huffington Post, and the UK’s Daily Mail 

But an error in a single line of the coding that analyzed the data means the conclusions in the paper — and all the news stories about those conclusions — are “more nuanced,” according to first author Amelia Karraker, an assistant professor at Iowa State University.

Karraker — who seems to be handling the case quickly and responsibly —  emailed us how she realized the error:

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Psych journal axes study of child molesters

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Journal Of Sexual Aggression

A journal has issued a “notice of redundant publication” for a paper that used virtual reality to understand arousal patterns in child molesters — the result of “an unfortunate sequence of personal events relating to the first author.”

The study, “Using immersive virtual reality and ecological psychology to probe into child molesters’ phenomenology,” was originally published online in 2011 and printed in 2013.

The Journal of Sexual Aggression announced the “notice of redundant publication” after the editors discovered the article contained “content of which much was included in an article published between the first online publication date of the original article and the final publication”. The article shares many of the same co-authors, and has since been retracted.

Patrice Renaud, the first author and a lecturer at the University of Quebec in Outaouais, took responsibility for the additional publications. In an email to Retraction Watch, Renaud said that the issues arose because of a family medical emergency:

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Recursive recursiveness: Retracted Lewandowsky et al conspiracy ideation study republished

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Stephan Lewandowsky

Stephan Lewandowsky

A paper on “the role of conspiracist ideation in climate denial” whose puzzling publication (and retraction) history formed the basis of a series of Retraction Watch posts in 2013 and 2014 is back, as part of a new article in a different journal.

Retraction Watch readers may recall a paper published in 2013 in Frontiers in Psychology. That paper, “Recursive fury: Conspiracist ideation in the blogosphere in response to research on conspiracist ideation,” was an attempt by Stephan Lewandowsky and colleagues to describe the reactions to another controversial Psychological Science paper Lewandowsky had co-authored, “NASA Faked the Moon Landing—Therefore, (Climate) Science Is a Hoax: An Anatomy of the Motivated Rejection of Science.”

The reason we started writing about the Frontiers paper was that it was removed from the journal’s site in March of 2013, for unclear reasons, before being formally retracted a year later with a reference to an investigation that “did not identify any issues with the academic and ethical aspects of the study” but found that “the legal context is insufficiently clear.” Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

July 8th, 2015 at 3:00 am

Yet another investigation casts doubt on Förster’s findings; he responds with “outrage”

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Jens Förster

Jens Förster

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:

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Written by Alison McCook

June 3rd, 2015 at 10:05 am

Beleaguered Förster turns down prestigious professorship, citing personal toll

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forster-j-a1

Jens Förster

Jens Förster, a social scientist accused of research misconduct, has turned down a highly coveted — and well-endowed — professorship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.

Foster explained his decision to decline the 5 million Euro award in a post on his personal website: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by amarcus41

April 20th, 2015 at 11:07 am

Psychology retractions have quadrupled since 1989: study

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stapel

Diederik Stapel

Marc Hauser. Dirk Smeesters. Diederik Stapel.

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:

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Written by Ivan Oransky

March 5th, 2015 at 11:30 am

Misconduct forces retraction of health behavior paper

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j behav medA pair of psychology researchers at West Virginia University have lost their 2013 article in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine after one of the authors was found to have cooked the data.

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.

That promise might go unfulfilled. According to the retraction notice: Read the rest of this entry »

Retraction appears for social psychologist Jens Förster

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forster-j-a1

Jens Förster

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:
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Written by Ivan Oransky

November 27th, 2014 at 8:30 am

“Positivity ratio” research now subject to an expression of concern

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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 »

Written by Cat Ferguson

July 29th, 2014 at 8:30 am