Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Flawed Psychology

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Flawed Psychology

Article excerpt

Stephen Gibson acknowledges that there may be a "train wreck looming" for one subfield of social psychology but not for the field more generally ("This is bigger than social psychology", Letters, 24 January). This subfield comprises research on social priming in which researchers use subtle environmental cues to try to unconsciously influence aspects of people's social behaviour.

We can put Gibson's claim to the test. Suppose we look at the current issue of one prestigious social psychology journal and select an article at random. Here is what I found when I did so. The article in question is not on social priming and was genuinely chosen at random (and is in fact the only one I've read from this issue). Its authors shall remain anonymous.

In the first of two reported experiments, neither of the key measures reaches the conventional level of statistical significance. Despite this, the authors report that the results provide support for their experimental hypothesis. In the second experiment, one of the key measures reaches significance but not the other, and the authors argue that their hypothesis is even more firmly supported. …

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