Rashomon in the hallway
March 11, 2012 7:55 PM Subscribe
In 1996, Yale psychologist John Bargh published a much cited paper (pdf) demonstrating the "priming effect" --- in a nutshell, subjects who had to unscramble sentences mentioning the elderly walked slower when leaving the examination room than control subjects. This year, Stéphane Doyen and his co-authors attempted to replicate Bargh's experiment, but were unable to reproduce the priming effect --- instead assembling evidence that it was the experimenter's knowledge of the study topic which created the apparent "priming". Is Bargh's famous experiment flawed? Or is Doyen's paper a pile of horseshit published in a two-bit for-profit online journal, as Bargh's strident critique suggests? Or is Bargh full of it himself? And who gets to decide what counts as good science these days anyway?
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