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Challenges in Replicating Results of Psychology Studies

Reason to suspect similar issues across disciplines, researcher says

FRIDAY, Aug. 28, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Independent researchers couldn't reproduce the findings of more than half of 100 experiments previously published in three prominent psychology journals, according to a review published in the Aug. 28 issue of Science.

The new review included studies published in 2008 in the journals Psychological Science, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, and Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition. Two hundred seventy researchers from all over the world agreed to take on someone else's earlier experiment and do it over again, to see if they could produce the same results.

Only 47 percent of the follow-up studies were able to reproduce the effects of the original studies. The strength of the findings of the original studies also appeared to diminish when successfully replicated. The new review also calls into question the statistics used in the original studies. About 97 percent of the original studies showed a statistically significant result, but only 36 percent of the replication studies showed the same.

"Reproducibility is a central feature of science," study author Brian Nosek, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, told HealthDay. "A scientific claim doesn't become believable because of the status or authority of the person that generated it. Credibility of the claim depends in part on the repeatability of its supporting evidence." Nosek is also executive director of the Center for Open Science, the non-profit group that coordinated the project.

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