Brief psychology news 06/2018

      2 Comments on Brief psychology news 06/2018

When I started my new job at Leiden University, I decided to send around news every now and then about the world of psychology, clinical psychology, open science, and meta science. People seemed to appreciate it: most of my colleagues do actual work, and unlike me don’t find the time to waste their academic hours on Twitter. After sending around the fourth email with updates, I decided to post the news here as well, in a slightly adapted form. Maybe it’ll become a thing, maybe it won’t. Let’s find out. But supervising this 3.5 hour exam is terrifyingly boring, and I really needed something to do.

Clinical trial protocols are insufficiently preregistered

​New paper​ published in which the authors​ analyzed 99 published clinical trial protocols​. ​This means that despite a trial protocol which is often ​thought of as pre-registration, large researcher degrees of freedom remain, allowing for p-hacking and other questionable research practices.

First Sternberg retraction

After evidence for both severe self-citations and self-plagiarism, Sternberg’s first paper has now been retracted “for reasons of redundant publication”. The editor wrote: “Although the content in the aforementioned article is scientifically valid, the article has substantial unreferenced overlap with the following works by the same author”.

What to replicate, and why?

New blog post by Peder Isager on what studies psychologists should replicate, and why​. My own thoughts on this are that we want to identify what Brian Haig calls ‘robust phenomena’. I’d love to hear from you what you consider to be such robust phenomena in psychology (especially clinical psychology), and started a discussion on this topic a while ago on Twitter.

The APS observer piece I mention features different psychologists writing about what they consider to be the most robust phenomenon in psychology; Rogier Kievit, for instance, wrote about G.

A failure to heal

An interesting piece in the NYT entitled “A failure to heal” in which Siddhartha Mukherjee discusses state clinical trials in medicine are in, and common practices that seem extremely questionable. The author, a PI who has conducted clinical trials in the past, shows why many drugs approved might not differ from placebo. He highlights the famous story of the statician Richard Peto, which I also use when I talk about multiple testing and subgroup analyses.

Failed replications in psychology

May and June were sad months for fans of textbook psychology … as highlighted by James Heathers in a series of tweets.

First, the famous Marshmallow study did not (quite) replicate, in a new study published in Psych Science: The authors found that an additional minute waited at age 4 predicted a gain of approximately one tenth of a standard deviation in achievement at age 15, half the size of that reported in the original studies. It was further reduced by two thirds after controlling for important covariates.

Second, it very much looks like the Stanford Prison experiment by Zimbardo should be removed from psychology textbooks. This is disheartning, given the fact that Zimbardo won a ton of scientific prizes for this work.

But not all hope is lost (maybe). In an interesting discussion on PsychMap initiated by Eli Finkel, people discussed whether there are robust phenomena in psychology, and Chris Crandall put forward quite a lot of them, including “social norms, conformity, attitudes, relationships, social contagion, cognitive dissonance, balance theory, imprecision of self-knowledge, judgment biases, attribution, aggression, altruism research, ingroup bias, prejudice, prejudice reduction, and social identify”. Which brings me back to my question above what phenomena we would consider robust in clinical psychology.

Exposomes and other -omics

Psychiatry is coming around to the idea that environmental factors play a role for psychological processes and disorders; this contrasts ​with ​many recent statements from NIH directors and other prominent scientists and (often US-based) mental health organizations arguing that all mental disorders are brain disorders. As with everything in psychiatry, the idea that we shouldn’t ignore the environment got a big fat name *drumrolls* … The Exposome!

Beware the spell-checker

Finally, stolen from here, two reasons why you shouldn’t listen too closely to MS Word spellchecker when drafting a scientific manuscript …

2 thoughts on “Brief psychology news 06/2018

  1. Neil

    Hi Eiko,

    As someone who has actively sought to reduce the amount of time spent scrolling through Twitter/Facebook over the last year (I believe to the benefit of my mental health), I really hope you continue doing these Weekly News posts!

    I currently keep up to date with psychology-related news through the Psychological Methods Blog mailing list (hence my reading this post), which I think is a fantastic resource. If you continue them, your Weekly News posts would be a great way for me to also keep up with some of the news on social media that I might otherwise miss out on.

    While I’m commenting, thanks a lot for all the very helpful information and interesting ideas that you have shared over the last couple of years! I always find your posts easy-to-sad and informative.

    1. Eiko Post author

      Thanks for the feedback, that’s the best way to help me see that posting this might be relevant. I had some positive responses on Twitter to – I’ll do it for half a year, maybe every 4-6 weeks, and then re-evaluate!


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