Wednesday, June 9, 2021

The current state of social psychology

I think this is a very useful post on Retraction Watch for understanding the current state of Social Psychology. The author, Augustine Brannigan, excerpted part of a book chapter that looks back at the replication crisis, but also looks forward. The various forms of data fraud and notorious incidents are very well-known at this point, as are Daryl Bem's infamous publication from 2011, as are the replication failures of social priming experiments. That Bem's experiment was not intended to be replicable but a form of persuasive argument is itself antithetical to what we are supposed to do in the sciences, as are other infamous classic experiments (by Sherif, Milgram, and Zimbardo). Brannigan is apt at pointing out the shortcomings of these classics, including the lack of clear hypotheses, control groups, etc. Brannigan also questions whether what we are doing as Social Psychologists is really particularly useful. The experimental approach that has "taken the social out of social psychology" is critiqued. I do think a more realistic appraisal of our field is to understand that many of the phenomena we study may be ephemeral. We probably should question when experimentation is appropriate and when we might wish to use other methods for understanding social phenomena. I suspect getting there will take some time. Whatever we do, we need to make sure that we are doing actual science and not merely making persuasive arguments, which turn out not to be all that persuasive.

No comments:

Post a Comment