“Of 100 studies published in top-ranking journals in 2008, 75% of social psychology experiments and half of cognitive studies failed the replication test.”
So states a Guardian article about a recent study in the journal, Science, “which saw 270 scientists repeat experiments on five continents, [and which] was launched by psychologists in the US in response to rising concerns over the reliability of psychology research.”
Why is this important and why should you care?
For several reasons, not the least of which are:
how the experts and pundits we trust define and explain everything, from society, culture, poverty, racism religious beliefs, political beliefs, to even news events such as shootings
how we come to understand other individuals and most important, our selves
and how, very important, mental illness is treated
Our beliefs and actions depend, to varying degrees in each of us, on these flawed studies.
(Plus, in this blog and others, we often rely on studies and feel it can be meaningful to share the latest research findings with you.)
Another important reason to care: More than a billion of your tax dollars go to social science funding in the United States alone. Government-funded or not, social science, especially psychology, studies need to make social, scientific, and financial sense.
We need to get this right!
If you and I have to give our money to researchers, academics, and others in psychology and related fields, there simply has to be more oversight.
Is Psychology A Science?
For anyone who has benefited from psychotherapy, psychology, and related treatment, the answer might be, possibly, “Who cares?” But for those who’ve struggled and not seen benefits, or who have even experienced negative results, the answer may be vital.
No way can we solve that question in a blog. Science comes from the Latin, scientia, which means knowledge, and is the present participle of scīre to know. The main definitions of science that are relevant to our discussion, from dictionary.com, are:
a branch of knowledge or study dealing with a body of facts or truths systematically arranged and showing the operation of general laws
systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation
any of the branches of natural or physical science
systematized knowledge in general
knowledge, as of facts or principles; knowledge gained by systematic study
a particular branch of knowledge
The key concepts running through these definitions are: knowledge, facts, truths, laws, and principles. In other words, provable facts.
We know that the scientific method, the aim of which is to test hypothesis and either prove or disprove them, is concerned with knowledge, facts, truths, laws, and principles and experiments which reveal these. The conclusions reached must be able to shown to be true when the experiment is repeated.
Psychology helps us make sense of the world. If we’re going to give psychological researchers, whether in social psychology or not, any amount of science funding, they must do a better job.
Related PsychCentral Therapy Soup Posts:
Related PsychCentral Posts: