Underreporting in Psychology Experiments: Evidence from a Study Registry.

Edit this page


Many scholars have raised concerns about the credibility of empirical findings in psychology, arguing that the proportion of false positives reported in the published literature dramatically exceeds the rate implied by standard significance levels. A major contributor of false positives is the practice of reporting a subset of the potentially relevant statistical analyses pertaining to a research project. This study is the first to provide direct evidence of selective underreporting in psychology experiments. To overcome the problem that the complete experimental design and full set of measured variables are not accessible for most published research, we identify a population of published psychology experiments from a competitive grant program for which questionnaires and data are made publicly available because of an institutional rule. We find that about 40% of studies fail to fully report all experimental conditions and about 70% of studies do not report all outcome variables included in the questionnaire. Reported effect sizes are about twice as large as unreported effect sizes and are about 3 times more likely to be statistically significant.

Link to resource: https://doi.org/10.1177/1948550615598377

Type of resources: Primary Source, Reading, Paper

Education level(s): College / Upper Division (Undergraduates)

Primary user(s): Student

Subject area(s): Applied Science, Social Science

Language(s): English