How much of the
A replication movement is afoot in psychology.
But researchers disagree about the scope and
significance of its findings so far.
By Lea Winerman
In his darker moments, University of Toronto social psychologist Michael Inzlicht, PhD, wonders whether he has spent his career “chasing puffs of smoke.”
Inzlicht has spent decades studying social psychological effects including
ego depletion — the idea that self-control is a limited resource and that
exerting willpower in one dimension can sap people’s ability to exert it in an
unrelated area. He has published several papers on the effect. But in a recent
multi-site replication study, 24 independent labs tested more than 2,000
participants and found evidence that the ego depletion effect is either very
small or nonexistent.
The study is one of several that have fed a growing debate about whether
the standard methods of psychological research and publishing have led the
field astray, allowing irreproducible results to accumulate in the literature.
Some psychologists — and many news media outlets — have called it a
“replication crisis.” Others, however, feel that the concern is overblown, and