Flaw show is not unique

March 14, 2013

As Wolfgang Stroebe and Miles Hewstone point out (“Primed, but not suspect”, 28 February), the chairs of the Levelt, Noort and Drenth committees tasked with investigating the fraudulent research practices of social psychologist Diederik Stapel have now made it clear that a comparison between research practices in social psychology and other disciplines was not within their remit. They add that “it is, given the existing literature on this topic, more than likely that such a comparison would have led the [committees] to the conclusion that social psychology is not unique”.

Their thoughtful and constructive rejoinder (published in February’s edition of The Psychologist magazine) to those, including the British Psychological Society, who have challenged aspects of their initial report stands in marked contrast to David Shanks’ continued efforts to suggest that social psychology is particularly vulnerable to poor research practice, which he does by criticising a single journal article (“Flawed psychology”, Letters, 14 February).

There is certainly no reason for social psychologists to be complacent, but equally there is no rationale to continue to imply that the discipline is uniquely flawed.

Stephen Gibson
Honorary secretary
British Psychological Society
Social psychology section

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