Pyschology As A Whole Put Into Doubt -- 100 Experiments Repeated And Failed

Scott Falkner

Psychology as a science and a profession has often been attacked and criticized by innumerable groups for innumerable reasons, though psychology as endured down through the annals of history as a legitimate science. However, some new research has raised some serious questions about psychology as a science, and may very well initiate a paradigm shift for the entire field of study.

In a massive new psychology study published in the journal Science, over 300 scientists attempted to repeat psychology experiments that have been documented in the past as successes. The study was conducted with the primary intention of seeing whether or not the same, successful results would be obtained a second time.

The researchers of the re-tests actually worked in many cases with the authors of the original psychological experiments and studies. All the psychology studies that were re-tested were conducted in 2008 and published in one of three psychology journals: Psychological Science, the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, and the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

The results were pretty shocking. Of 100 re-tests of past successful psychology experiments conducted, only about half were successful again.

The lead scientist on the psychology re-tests, Dr. Brian Nosek, a psychology professor at the University of Virginia, said that the failure of repeat tests of psychological experiments does not necessarily mean that the original results of the psychological tests were inaccurate. Instead, Nosek said, it simply emphasizes what scientists mean when they say "more research is needed."

"Each individual study has some evidence. It contributes some information toward a conclusion. But the real conclusion, when you can say confidently that something is true or false, is based on an accumulation of evidence over many studies. Even this project itself is not a definitive word about reproducibility."

Dr. Nosek went on to explain that there are many different reasons as to why the repeated psychology experiments failed in almost half of all cases. He said that, yes, the original results of certain psychology experiments could have been wrong, but the failure of repeated successful results could also be a consequence of the repeated experiments being done wrong, or the repeat experimenters overlooking something as a result of pure chance.

As there seem to be no definite answers when it comes to psychology, perhaps the next question is, how valuable is it?

[Photo by Matt Cardy / Getty Images]