Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=1850704
 
 

References (11)



 
 

Citations (13)



 


 



False-Positive Psychology: Undisclosed Flexibility in Data Collection and Analysis Allows Presenting Anything as Significant


Joseph P. Simmons


University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School; University of Pennsylvania - Operations & Information Management Department

Leif D. Nelson


University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business

Uri Simonsohn


University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School

May 23, 2011

Psychological Science, 2011

Abstract:     
In this article, we accomplish two things. First, we show that despite empirical psychologists’ nominal endorsement of a low rate of false-positive findings (≤ .05), flexibility in data collection, analysis, and reporting dramatically increases actual false-positive rates. In many cases, a researcher is more likely to falsely find evidence that an effect exists than to correctly find evidence that it does not. We present computer simulations and a pair of actual experiments that demonstrate how unacceptably easy it is to accumulate (and report) statistically significant evidence for a false hypothesis. Second, we suggest a simple, low-cost, and straightforwardly effective disclosure-based solution to this problem. The solution involves six concrete requirements for authors and four guidelines for reviewers, all of which impose a minimal burden on the publication process.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 8

Keywords: Methodology, Motivated Reasoning, Publication, Disclosure

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Date posted: May 24, 2011 ; Last revised: July 5, 2012

Suggested Citation

Simmons, Joseph P. and Nelson, Leif D. and Simonsohn, Uri, False-Positive Psychology: Undisclosed Flexibility in Data Collection and Analysis Allows Presenting Anything as Significant (May 23, 2011). Psychological Science, 2011. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1850704

Contact Information

Joseph P. Simmons (Contact Author)
University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School ( email )
3733 Spruce Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6374
United States
University of Pennsylvania - Operations & Information Management Department ( email )
Jon M. Huntsman Hall
3730 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States
HOME PAGE: http://opimweb.wharton.upenn.edu/people/faculty.cfm?id=1666

Leif D. Nelson
University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business ( email )
545 Student Services Building
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States
Uri Simonsohn
University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School ( email )
3730 Walnut Street
JMHH 500
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6365
United States
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