The looming train wreck in psychology and scientific research

“For all these reasons, right or wrong, your field is now the poster child for doubts about the integrity of psychological research,” Kahneman writes. “I believe that you should collectively do something about this mess.”

That is Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman, apparently in an email to psychologists who work on “priming” experiments–the ways that subtle cues change our behavior. Ouch.

Why? Failure to be able to replicate classic studies is a “train wreck looming” for the field, due to a “storm of doubt” about the results.

These guys may be conspicuous for non-robust findings, and psychology is worse than average, but I would not be surprised if economics and political science are nearly as guilty–especially the non-experimental work, but the meagre experimental work too.

Article here. hat tip @deankarlan.

11 thoughts on “The looming train wreck in psychology and scientific research

  1. If priming studies are wrong the consequences are much bigger than wrong econ or polisci regressions: Their results are used in a lot of subsequent experiments, so if the priming effect isn’t real, that invalidates a lot of other studies. I’m not aware of any literature in polisci or econ whose failure would have a comparable downstream effect.
    Also, I don’t see why problems with an experimental literature lead you to be more optimistic about experimental econ/polisci than about observational econ/polisci