The replicability crisis and public trust in psychological science

Farid Anvari, Daniël Lakens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
36 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Replication failures of past findings in several scientific disciplines, including psychology, medicine, and experimental economics, have created a “crisis of confidence” among scientists. Psychological science has been at the forefront of tackling these issues, with discussions about replication failures and scientific self-criticisms of questionable research practices (QRPs) increasingly taking place in public forums. How this replicability crisis impacts the public’s trust is a question yet to be answered by research. Whereas some researchers believe that the public’s trust will be positively impacted or maintained, others believe trust will be diminished. Because it is our field of expertise, we focus on trust in psychological science. We performed a study testing how public trust in past and future psychological research would be impacted by being informed about (i) replication failures (replications group), (ii) replication failures and criticisms of QRPs (QRPs group), and (iii) replication failures, criticisms of QRPs, and proposed reforms (reforms group). Results from a mostly European sample (N = 1129) showed that, compared to a control group, people in the replications, QRPs, and reforms groups self-reported less trust in past research. Regarding trust in future research, the replications and QRPs groups did not significantly differ from the control group. Surprisingly, the reforms group had less trust in future research than the control group. Nevertheless, people in the replications, QRPs, and reforms groups did not significantly differ from the control group in how much they believed future research in psychological science should be supported by public funding. Potential explanations are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)266-286
Number of pages21
JournalComprehensive Results in Social Psychology
Volume3
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2 Sep 2018

Keywords

  • crisis of confidence
  • open science
  • Replicability crisis
  • reproducibility crisis
  • trust in science

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