What was the problem again? Briefly put, the problem is that much doubt has arisen about the reliability of much research that has been done in the field of psychology. The most important reason for this doubt is that many replication studies have been done in which the effects of the original studies have either not been found of were much weaker. Several lines of research, for instance on priming, ego depletion, and powerposes have, at least to some extent, fallen into disrepute. Some of the problems which underlie the limited robustness of these findings are publication bias, p-hacking, and mixing science with commerce.
As I said, some scientists responded defensively to the replication studies but the majority of the scientific community seems to agree that the problems are real and is working to solve them. I want to mention three ways in which psychology tries to make progress.
1. Replication research continuesResearchers continue to do new replication studies. One example is in replication studies into the so-called facial feedback hypothesis. This hypothesis which is based on the work by one of psychology's founders, Williams James, says that facial expressions are not only effects of felt emotions. Instead, according to James, emotions felt and facial expressions are like a two way street. Facial expression also affect the emotions we feel. A famous experiment by Strack et al. (1988) confirmed this hypothesis. They had participants take a pen in their mouth which cause their facial muscles into what looked like a smile. They then found that these participants started to feel happier. This influential study has now been replicated in 17 laboratories from all over the world and its findings were not confirmed. In 9 experiments the findings were in the same direction as in the original study but the effect which was found was much weaker. The other experiments, however, found an opposite effect. Together, these findings give rise to serious doubt as to whether the facial feedback hypothesis is correct (read more). Which other findings will fall into disrepute?
2. Individual scientists draw their lessonsIn response to the current situation several researchers are trying to draw their lessons and change their practices. Michael Inzlicht (photo), a researcher which has worked on ego depletion for years, at first was shocked but soon decided to draw lessons from the current crisis and carried out a critical self-examination. To find out to which extent he had contributed to the crisis he analyzed all of his papers on three metrics: the p-curve, the R-Index, and the TIVA (read here how and why he did that). To find out whether the scientific quality of this work had improved over the years, he compared his first 10 papers with his latest 10 papers. Inzlicht writes that he was more than a little afraid of what he would discover and his overall judgment is cricital. But he also concludes that the quality of his research is improving (read the details here).
As you know, good examples tend to be followed. Michael Kraus, in response to Inzlicht, did an even more detailed self-analysis.
Will other scientists follow these examples?Auditing my research practices was horrifying, but also necessary for moving forward. New blog. https://t.co/gj4ghf67Lx— Michael W. Kraus (@mwkraus) August 23, 2016