Description: If you have taken a psychology course or two (or if you just read widely in the science media) you have likely heard about something called the replication crisis in social psychology. Because every study done involves less that everyone (i.e., a sample not the whole population) there is always a chance that any seemingly significant results are really only random effects or that something about the way the study was done subtly or not so subtly effected the results. One of the core tenants of psychology’s research methodology is replication or repeating one’s own or other people’s studies to see if one gets the same results. There is a reticence about doing such replication not due to a lack of courage but rather due to a general drive to build one’s own path into the research domain. But, replications were run, typically on studies that were considered a big deal or which had surprising results and many of the replication failed. A classic example was the collection of studies done originally by Darrel Bem, a social psychology research titan, that looked at whether future behaviour could influence past behaviour. One example was a study in which propel did a memory test and then studied a randomly selected number of items from the original memory list and were found to have done better recalling the words they were assigned to study AFTER they had taken the test. I know, sounds weird right? I blogged about it previously. As gloomy as this all seems for the science of Psychology we could consider a different question … that being, which studies or results in social psychology have consistently replicated well and what sorts of criteria might we use to decide on the extent and quality of those replications? You may not have any thoughts on this topic to gather before reading the linked article so just dive in and see what Roy Baumeister (another research titan) has to say on the matter.
Source: What’s the Best Replicated Finding in Social Psychology? Roy Baumeister, Cultural Animal, Psychology Today.
Date: March 23, 2022
So, the obvious fix for a lack of replication would be … replications! But there is more to it than that. There should be a number of successful replications as well as few or no replication failures. But even there we run into a problem tied to the fact that the business of psychological research runs on publications and publications rarely (almost never) are build on negative results and failures of replication ARE negative results. Multi-site replication is also important as well because it is a way to control for the many possible intangible effects of single lab locations. Different methods, referred to as multi-methods, are important as they control for the possibility that findings are specific to particular methodologies. Preregistered replications involve researchers locking in their design and hypotheses with an independent recording body before conducting the study so as to ensure that they do not engage in ‘fishing’ for or ‘cherry picking’ results. These replication criteria may seem like a lot, but the article goes on to provide a few examples of the successful application of the criteria to concepts like ego depletion and the elaboration likelihood model of persuasion (you can read about those concepts in some of the articles linked in the further reading section below). The future of social psychological research is complex but ultimately, with replication, it is clearer.
Questions for Discussion:
- What is replication and why is it important?
- What are some of the criteria that could be used to define and ensure replication of research in social psychology?
- Why is replication important for the long run view of research in social psychology and in psychology in general?
References (Read Further):
Dang, J., Barker, P., Baumert, A., Bentvelzen, M., Berkman, E., Buchholz, N., … & Zinkernagel, A. (2021). A multilab replication of the ego depletion effect. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 12(1), 14-24. Link
Dang, J. (2016). Commentary: A multilab preregistered replication of the ego-depletion effect. Frontiers in Psychology, 7, 1155. Link
Brandt, M. J., IJzerman, H., Dijksterhuis, A., Farach, F. J., Geller, J., Giner-Sorolla, R., … & Van’t Veer, A. (2014). The replication recipe: What makes for a convincing replication?. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 50, 217-224. Link
Laws, K. R. (2016). Psychology, replication & beyond. BMC psychology, 4(1), 1-8. Link
Hüffmeier, J., Mazei, J., & Schultze, T. (2016). Reconceptualizing replication as a sequence of different studies: A replication typology. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 66, 81-92. Link
Petty, R. E., & Cacioppo, J. T. (1986). The elaboration likelihood model of persuasion. In Communication and persuasion (pp. 1-24). Springer, New York, NY. Link
Kitchen, P. J., Kerr, G., Schultz, D. E., McColl, R., & Pals, H. (2014). The elaboration likelihood model: review, critique and research agenda. European Journal of Marketing. Link
Susmann, M. W., Xu, M., Clark, J. K., Wallace, L. E., Blankenship, K. L., Philipp-Muller, A. Z., … & Petty, R. E. (2021). Persuasion amidst a pandemic: Insights from the Elaboration Likelihood Model. European Review of Social Psychology, 1-37. Link
Bosnjak, M., Fiebach, C. J., Mellor, D., Mueller, S., O’Connor, D. B., Oswald, F. L., & Sokol-Chang, R. I. (2021). A template for preregistration of quantitative research in psychology: Report of the joint psychological societies preregistration task force. American Psychologist. Link