Another spate of high-profile and provocative psychology studies have failed to replicate, dealing blows to the theories that fiction makes readers empathetic, for example, or that the internet makes us dumber.
At a time when psychology researchers are increasingly concerned about the rigor of their field, five laboratories set out to repeat 21 influential studies. Experiments in just 13 of those papers — or 62% — held up, according to an analysis published Monday.
The eight papers that did not fully replicate — seven in the journal Science, one in Nature — have been cited hundreds of times in scientific literature and many were widely covered by the media.
Failing to replicate isn’t definitive proof that a finding is false, particularly in cases where other studies support the same general idea. And some scientists told BuzzFeed News they do not agree with how the replications were done.
Still, the new findings are part of an overwhelming, and troubling, trend. The so-called reproducibility crisis has hit research in many fields of science, from artificial intelligence to cancer. Shoddy psychology research has received the most attention, with a 2015 report replicating just 36% of 97 studies.
It makes sense that scientists want to publish data that is surprising or counterintuitive. “That’s not a bad thing in science, because that’s how science breaks boundaries,” said Brian…