Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘psychology’ Category

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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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:
Read the rest of this entry »

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

Rapid mood swing: PNAS issues Expression of Concern for controversial Facebook study

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pnas 1113The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) is subjecting a much-criticized study involving Facebook that it published just two weeks ago to an Expression of Concern.

From the abstract of the original study: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

July 3rd, 2014 at 5:00 pm

Förster on defense again, this time weighing in on timeline controversy

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forster-j-aScience 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.

According to a piece by Frank van Kolfschooten (which is behind a paywall, and to which we linked in Saturday’s Weekend Reads):

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 »

Written by amarcus41

June 2nd, 2014 at 10:30 am

“Misrepresentation,” “reckless disregard for basic scientific standards”: Hauser report reveals details of misconduct

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Harvard-logo_7Courtesy 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 »

Written by Ivan Oransky

May 30th, 2014 at 8:50 am

“Blameworthy inaccuracies:” Dirk Smeesters up to six retractions

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smeestersDirk 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 »

“I never manipulated data”: Förster defends actions in open letter

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Jens Förster

Jens Förster, the Dutch social psychologist accused of misconduct, has posted an open letter on his lab’s website in which he denies wrongdoing.

The letter, in English and dated May 11, offers a detailed rebuttal to the investigation’s conclusions. It also offers a rationale for Förster’s decision not to post his data on the Internet. And it’s followed by a briefer letter from Nira Liberman, who identifies herself as a collaborator of Förster’s.

We present the letter in full below:

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Written by amarcus41

May 12th, 2014 at 10:16 am

Förster report cites “unavoidable” conclusion of data manipulation

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Jens Förster

Last week we wrote about the 2012 complaint that triggered the investigation into Jens Förster, the social psychologist at the University of Amsterdam whose work has come under scrutiny for possible fraud.

Now we have the findings of the official investigation by Landelijk Orgaan Wetenschappelijke Integriteit (the Dutch National Board for Scientific Integrity, often referred to as LOWI) — which clearly indicates that the institution believes Förster made up results.

Here are some of the highlights from the document, which we’ve had translated by a Dutch speaker:

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Written by amarcus41

May 7th, 2014 at 10:00 am

New Frontiers: Marc Hauser back publishing in scientific literature

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frontiers psychMarc Hauser, the psychology researcher who resigned from Harvard and was found by the Office of Research Integrity to have committed misconduct, has published two new papers.

Both papers appear in Frontiers in Psychology, the journal whose retraction of a controversial paper on conspiracy ideation and climate skepticism was, by the editors’ own admission, handled badly.

Here’s the abstract to “The mystery of language evolution:”

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

May 6th, 2014 at 11:00 am