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Psychology’s replication crisis sparks new debate

Analyses of major reproducibility review reach conflicting conclusions

2:41pm, March 3, 2016
psychologists conducting a study

DO OVER  Recent evidence that findings from many published psychology studies don’t stand up to further scrutiny may have greatly underestimated the reproducibility of those studies, researchers say. But the extent to which psychology reports can be replicated remains controversial.

Psychology got rocked last year by a report that many of the field’s published results vanish in repeat experiments. But that disturbing study sounded a false alarm, a controversial analysis finds.

The original investigation of 100 studies contained key errors, contend Harvard University psychologist Daniel Gilbert and his colleagues. After correcting for those errors, the effects reported in 85 of those studies appeared in replications conducted by different researchers. So an initial conclusion that only 35 studies generated repeatable findings was a gross underestimate, Gilbert’s team reports in the March 4 Science.

“There’s no evidence for a replication crisis in psychology,” Gilbert says.

Psychologist Brian Nosek of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville and other members of the group who conducted the original replication study (

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