Is the Political Slant of Psychology Research Related to Scientific Replicability?

Diego A. Reinero, Julian A. Wills, William J. Brady, Peter Mende-Siedlecki, Jarret T. Crawford, Jay J. Van Bavel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Social science researchers are predominantly liberal, and critics have argued this representation may reduce the robustness of research by embedding liberal values into the research process. In an adversarial collaboration, we examined whether the political slant of research findings in psychology is associated with lower rates of scientific replicability. We analyzed 194 original psychology articles reporting studies that had been subject to a later replication attempt (N = 1,331,413 participants across replications) by having psychology doctoral students (Study 1) and an online sample of U.S. residents (Study 2) from across the political spectrum code the political slant (liberal vs. conservative) of the original research abstracts. The methods and analyses were preregistered. In both studies, the liberal or conservative slant of the original research was not associated with whether the results were successfully replicated. The results remained consistent regardless of the ideology of the coder. Political slant was unrelated to both subsequent citation patterns and the original study’s effect size and not consistently related to the original study’s sample size. However, we found modest evidence that research with greater political slant—whether liberal or conservative—was less replicable, whereas statistical robustness consistently predicted replication success. We discuss the implications for social science, politics, and replicability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1310-1328
Number of pages19
JournalPerspectives on Psychological Science
Volume15
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020

Keywords

  • bias
  • conservative
  • ideology
  • liberal
  • politics
  • replication

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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