What can Recent Replication Failures tell us about the Theoretical Commitments of Psychology?

Theory and Psychology 24:326-338 (2014)
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I suggest that the recent, highly visible, and often heated debate over failures to replicate the results in the social sciences reveals more than the need for greater attention to the pragmatics and value of empirical falsification. It also is a symptom of a serious issue -- the underdeveloped state of theory in many areas of psychology. While I focus on the phenomenon of “social priming” -- since it figures centrally in current debate -- it is not the only area of psychological inquiry to which my critique applies. I first discuss some of the key issues in the “social priming” debate and then attempt to show that many of the problems thus far identified are traceable to a lack of specificity of theory. Finally, I hint at the possibility that adherence to the materialist tenets of modern psychological theory may have a limiting effect on our full appreciation of the phenomena under scrutiny.

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Stanley Bernard Klein
University of California, Santa Barbara


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