Another method assessed whether a statistically significant effect could be found, and produced an even bleaker result. The team also found that the average size of the effects found in the replicated studies was only half that reported in the original studies. There is no way of knowing whether any individual paper is true or false from this work, says Nosek. Either the original or the replication work could be flawed, or crucial differences between the two might be unappreciated.
Overall, however, the project points to widespread publication of work that does not stand up to scrutiny. The current amount, he says, is near-zero. The work is part of the Reproducibility Project, launched in amid high-profile reports of fraud and faulty statistical analysis that led to an identity crisis in psychology. This is because the Reproducibility Project targeted work in highly respected journals, the original scientists worked closely with the replicators, and replicating teams generally opted for papers employing relatively easy methods — all things that should have made replication easier.
The mere fact that that collaboration happened at such a large scale suggests that scientists are willing to move in the direction of improving. The work published in Science is different from previous papers on replication because the team actually replicated such a large swathe of experiments, says Andrew Gelman, a statistician at Columbia University in New York. In the past, some researchers dismissed indications of widespread problems because they involved small replication efforts or were based on statistical simulations.
But they will have a harder time shrugging off the latest study, says Gelman. The value of this project is that hopefully people will be less confident about their claims. The point, says Nosek, is not to critique individual papers but to gauge just how much bias drives publication in psychology. For instance, boring but accurate studies may never get published, or researchers may achieve intriguing results less by documenting true effects than by hitting the statistical jackpot ; finding a significant result by sheer luck or trying various analytical methods until something pans out.
Nosek believes that other scientific fields are likely to have much in common with psychology. One analysis found that only 6 of 53 high-profile papers in cancer biology could be reproduced 2 and a related reproducibility project in cancer biology is currently under way. The incentives to find results worthy of high-profile publications are very strong in all fields, and can spur people to lose objectivity.
Some individuals who suffer significant injuries to their spinal columns are unable to feel the bodily changes that often accompany emotional experiences.
The Replication Crisis in Psychology
Therefore, we could test the hypothesis by determining how emotional experiences differ between individuals who have the ability to detect these changes in their physiological arousal and those who do not. Want to participate in a study? Visit this Psychological Research on the Net website and click on a link that sounds interesting to you in order to participate in online research.
The use of the scientific method is one of the main features that separates modern psychology from earlier philosophical inquiries about the mind. Many of the concepts that psychologists are interested in—such as aspects of the human mind, behavior, and emotions—are subjective and cannot be directly measured.
What you’ll learn to do: define and apply the scientific method to psychology
Psychologists often rely instead on behavioral observations and self-reported data, which are considered by some to be illegitimate or lacking in methodological rigor. Applying the scientific method to psychology, therefore, helps to standardize the approach to understanding its very different types of information. The scientific method allows psychological data to be replicated and confirmed in many instances, under different circumstances, and by a variety of researchers.
Through replication of experiments, new generations of psychologists can reduce errors and broaden the applicability of theories.
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It also allows theories to be tested and validated instead of simply being conjectures that could never be verified or falsified. All of this allows psychologists to gain a stronger understanding of how the human mind works. Scientific articles published in journals and psychology papers written in the style of the American Psychological Association i. These papers include an Introduction, which introduces the background information and outlines the hypotheses; a Methods section, which outlines the specifics of how the experiment was conducted to test the hypothesis; a Results section, which includes the statistics that tested the hypothesis and state whether it was supported or not supported, and a Discussion and Conclusion, which state the implications of finding support for, or no support for, the hypothesis.
Writing articles and papers that adhere to the scientific method makes it easy for future researchers to repeat the study and attempt to replicate the results. Today, scientists agree that good research is ethical in nature and is guided by a basic respect for human dignity and safety.
Modern researchers must demonstrate that the research they perform is ethically sound. This section presents how ethical considerations affect the design and implementation of research conducted today. Any experiment involving the participation of human subjects is governed by extensive, strict guidelines designed to ensure that the experiment does not result in harm. Any research institution that receives federal support for research involving human participants must have access to an institutional review board IRB.
The purpose of the IRB is to review proposals for research that involves human participants. The IRB reviews these proposals with the principles mentioned above in mind, and generally, approval from the IRB is required in order for the experiment to proceed.
Figure 5. For one, each participant must sign an informed consent form before they can participate in the experiment. An informed consent form provides a written description of what participants can expect during the experiment, including potential risks and implications of the research. It also lets participants know that their involvement is completely voluntary and can be discontinued without penalty at any time. Furthermore, the informed consent guarantees that any data collected in the experiment will remain completely confidential. In cases where research participants are under the age of 18, the parents or legal guardians are required to sign the informed consent form.
Deception involves purposely misleading experiment participants in order to maintain the integrity of the experiment, but not to the point where the deception could be considered harmful. In cases where deception is involved, participants must receive a full debriefing upon conclusion of the study—complete, honest information about the purpose of the experiment, how the data collected will be used, the reasons why deception was necessary, and information about how to obtain additional information about the study. Unfortunately, the ethical guidelines that exist for research today were not always applied in the past.
In , poor, rural, black, male sharecroppers from Tuskegee, Alabama, were recruited to participate in an experiment conducted by the U. Public Health Service, with the aim of studying syphilis in black men Figure 2.
Many scientific “truths” are, in fact, false
In exchange for free medical care, meals, and burial insurance, men agreed to participate in the study. A little more than half of the men tested positive for syphilis, and they served as the experimental group given that the researchers could not randomly assign participants to groups, this represents a quasi-experiment.
The remaining syphilis-free individuals served as the control group.
However, those individuals that tested positive for syphilis were never informed that they had the disease. While there was no treatment for syphilis when the study began, by penicillin was recognized as an effective treatment for the disease. Despite this, no penicillin was administered to the participants in this study, and the participants were not allowed to seek treatment at any other facilities if they continued in the study.
Over the course of 40 years, many of the participants unknowingly spread syphilis to their wives and subsequently their children born from their wives and eventually died because they never received treatment for the disease. This study was discontinued in when the experiment was discovered by the national press Tuskegee University, n.
The resulting outrage over the experiment led directly to the National Research Act of and the strict ethical guidelines for research on humans described in this chapter. Why is this study unethical? How were the men who participated and their families harmed as a function of this research? Figure 6. A participant in the Tuskegee Syphilis Study receives an injection.
Figure 7. Rats, like the one shown here, often serve as the subjects of animal research. This does not mean that animal researchers are immune to ethical concerns. Indeed, the humane and ethical treatment of animal research subjects is a critical aspect of this type of research. Researchers must design their experiments to minimize any pain or distress experienced by animals serving as research subjects. This committee is charged with ensuring that all experimental proposals require the humane treatment of animal research subjects.
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It also conducts semi-annual inspections of all animal facilities to ensure that the research protocols are being followed. Skip to main content. Module 2: Psychological Research. Search for:. Learning Objectives Explain the steps of the scientific method Describe why the scientific method is important to psychology Summarize the processes of informed consent and debriefing Explain how research involving humans or animals is regulated.