Dr. Daniel Peterson, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry
Exploring a failure to replicate
In all scientific disciplines, perhaps none more so than psychology, researchers have begun to address long-ignored questions relating to replicability. In a 2013 paper, Neil Mulligan and I published an empirical article detailing one of the first theoretical accounts to help explain a popular effect in the area of memory research, the Testing Effect (the phenomenon whereby recalling information makes subsequent recall of that same information easier). In 2015, a research group from Kent State University published an article detailing five separate failed attempts at replicating this 2013 study. Such outcomes often lead readers to question and scrutinize the original demonstration, as ample research has detailed myriad questionable research practices that increase the likelihood of failed replications. However, in a joint collaboration between the original research group and the group at Kent State University, we demonstrate how the 2015 paper should be seen as a failure to generalize to a different participant population rather than a failure to replicate. This study highlights the importance of exploring the nature of replication failures and helps illustrate that replication failures can and do occur even in the absence of questionable research practices.
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