A Research Crisis in Psychology?!


There has been A LOT of press recently (as well as nerdy argumentation) regarding the extent to which psychological science is suffering from terrible research.

Why is this a problem? Because Psychology claims to be a science and bases it’s claims, theories and postulates on the “scientific method” however the scientific method necessitates accuracy, honesty, and replication.  Three elements that the most recent report in the Journal SCIENCE (http://science.sciencemag.org/content/349/6251/aac4716.full) have noted are too frequently missing. Thus, where does that leave psychology?

Read the summary by VOX Below: 


And consider the following: 

*Can we trust any piece of research? 

*What makes research valid? Is there such a thing as “more valid” and “less valid” research? 

*What does the word “power” mean when applied to psychological research? 

Below is further coverage of the issue (specific to the concept of ego depletion) from Slate.com:


Correlation Vs. Causation

Correlation vs. Causation

The reported health benefits of drinking moderate amounts of red wine have been widely reported in the news over the past decade.  


The question of course is what is it about wine drinking that increases our health?  Wasn’t alcohol meant to be bad for you? 

Consider the following study excerpted from the 2015 book, The Dorito Effect: 

In 2002, four Danish scientists began examining grocery receipts. This may sound like a waste of taxpayer dollars, but in fact it was the kind of experiment other scientists describe as “elegant.” For years, science had been grappling with the unexplained health benefits of wine—wine drinkers seemed more resistant to coronary heart disease and certain cancers, but no one knew why. Predictably, there was a large-scale effort to rip wine apart in search of whatever compound was working its peculiar magic on the human body and turn it into a pill. (Resveratrol was one.) The Danish group came at it from a different angle. They didn’t need a gas chromatograph. They needed receipts.

–STOP– Why would they look at receipts?? Discuss with your seat partner. now. 


They wanted to know what else all those healthy wine drinkers were buying when they visited the supermarket.

Altogether, they examined 3.5 million transactions from 98 supermarkets. They found that wine drinkers didn’t shop the same way as beer drinkers. Wine drinkers were more likely to place olives, low-fat cheese, fruits and vegetables, low-fat meat, spices, and tea in their carts. Beer drinkers, on the other hand, were more likely to reach for the chips, ketchup, margarine, sugar, ready-cooked meals, and soft drinks.

Perhaps the health of wine drinkers isn’t caused by wine so much as by the fact that wine drinkers like wine in the first place. The greatest predictor of health, these results suggest, doesn’t come down to this or that nutrient. It comes down to what a person finds delicious.

— Adapted from The Dorito Effect: The Surprising New Truth About Food and Flavor, by Mark Schatzker (published by Simon & Schuster in May)

 Here are some more examples of mistaken causation by the media:

Correlation in the media

IB Psych Paper 3: Analyzing Research

Research Methods: Paper 3

Read the article on the famous Purdue study on learning methods and retention of information and then answer the accompanying questions below in order to increase your fluency in regard to quantitative and qualitative research methods!!

If you Really Want to Learn, Quit Studying and Take a Test

Questions for Understanding:

  1. Identify the target population
  2. What Sampling Technique was used? What the strengths/weaknesses of this approach? List the other sampling techniques.
  3. What type of research was conducted? In what category of research would you place the Purdue Study?
  4. Evaluate the external validity of these findings
  5. Describe what other findings would have to exist in order to provide methodological triangulation


Finish the learning helper below to give you a better understanding of Observational Research!

Understanding Observational Research