Science Correcting Itself


Ongoing Controversies

Correction is an important element of scientific progress.  In the history of scientific investigations, it has been common for widely-accepted ideas to be overturned.  Literature contains many instances of such self-correction, though the corrections are sometimes not as widely known as the original findings.  Here, we catalog some corrections, all of which are instances science can be proud of.  Investigators are invited to submit to us more such examples to be listed here and to illustrate more instances in which science was successfully self-correcting.

Alternative Views:

Best Practices in Science congratulates Katherine Finnigan and Katherine Corker, for their paper:

Finnigan, K. M., & Corker, K.S. (2016). Do performance avoidance goals moderate the effect of different types of stereotype threat on women’s math performance? Journal of Research in Personality, 63, 36-43.

which recently received the award from the Association for Research in Personality for best paper of 2016. This paper was a high powered pre-registered failed replication. It found no effects of stereotype threat and no moderation by any of the proposed or obtained moderators identified in prior research that it tested. Our view is that this is a double watershed:

First, statistically significant evidence of moderators may often constitute manifestations of either p-hacking or Gelman’s “garden of forking paths” (essentially, unintentional p-hacking). Furthermore, original findings subject to failed replications are often claimed to still be credible because of so-called “hidden moderators” (moderators unarticulated or unexamined in the original research, which, if they were to be included, would yield statistically significant findings). By virtue of its high power and pre-registration, the Finnigan and Corker paper disconfirmed every one of these predictions it tested regarding the existence of stereotype threat as a source of women’s underachievement in math.

It is also a watershed for a second reason. This is, to our knowledge, the first time a failed replication has been recognized as the best paper by a major psychological organization. Our view is that, 10 years ago, it would likely have been difficult, if not impossible, to even publish this paper. That this paper received this recognition is, we hope, a symptom of an improving state of the quality of psychological science.

Flore, P. C., & Wicherts, J. M. (2014). Does stereotype threat influence performance of girls in stereotyped domains? A meta-analysis. Journal of School Psychology, 53, 25-44.

Jussim, L., Crawford, J.T., Stevens, S.T., Anglin, S.M., & Duarte, J.L. (2014). Interpretations and methods: Towards a more effectively self-correcting social psychology. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.

Sackett, P. R., Hardison, C. M., & Cullen, M. J. (2004). On interpreting stereotype threat as accounting for African American-White differences on cognitive tests. American Psychologist, 59(1), 7.

Stoet, G., & Geary, D. C. (2012). Can Stereotype Threat Explain the Gender Gap in Mathematics Performance and Achievement? Review of General Psychology, 16, 93-102.

Wax, A. (2009). Stereotype threat: A case of overclaim syndrome? In C. H. Sommers (Ed.), The science on women and science (pp. 132-169). Washington D. C.: AIE Press.

It is also worth comparing Spencer et al’s (2016) characterization of Flore & Wichert (2014) and Stoet & Geary (2012) as supporting evidence of “robust” stereotype threat effects, with the actual doubts about the existence of the phenomenon actually expressed in those articles.

The Stanford Prison Experiment:

In 1971, Philip Zimbardo conducted what would become one of the most famous psychological experiments, The Stanford Prison Experiment. Not only is the experiment covered in almost every introductory social psychology textbook, but even those who have never studied the subject recognize the name. Zimbardo claims that his study demonstrates how situational factors influence a person’s actions more than dispositional ones. More specifically, that positions of power can cause people to do things they may not have done otherwise. However, recently with the release of tape recordings and participant testimony, this finding has come under question. Critics claim that Zimbardo and his colleagues influenced the results and used participant behavior that they knew was not authentic to make inaccurate claims about human psychology.


The Lifespan of a Lie (Medium, June 7, 2018)

The Stanford Prison Experiment was massively influential. We just learned it was a fraud. (Vox, June 13, 2018)

The Stanford Prison Experiment, or How to Make It Big Using Research Fraud (New York Post, June 14, 2018)

Famed Stanford Prison Experiment was a fraud, scientist says (New York Post, June 14, 2018)

Was the ‘Stanford Prison Experiment’ Fake? This New Report Rewrites Science History (Outer Places, June 15, 2018)

One of Psychology’s Most Famous Experiments Was Deeply Flawed (Live Science, June 15, 2018)

Why everything you know about the Stanford Prison Experiment might be wrong (Big Think, June 18, 2018)

Time to Dismiss the Stanford Prison Experiment? (Inside Higher Ed, June 20, 2018)


Philip Zimbardo’s Response to Recent Criticisms of the Stanford Prison Experiment (Stanford Prison Experiment, June 23, 2018)

Statement by Craig Haney (Stanford Prison Experiment, June 25, 2018)

Statement by Christina Maslach (Stanford Prison Experiment, June 26, 2018)

Stanford Prison Experiment: Prisoner 8612’s Emotional Breakdown (Youtube, June 26, 2018)

On rethinking the psychology of tyranny: The BBC prison study (The British Psychology Study, June 26, 2018)

The Benefits of Bilingualism:

On one side of the debate scholars argue that bilingualism improves executive function in the brain. These scholars argue that the majority of published studies support this conclusion and that new brain-scanning studies also support this hypothesis. However, other scholars argue that bilingualism has not been conclusively proven to improve executive function citing many studies that have failed replication attempts. They also argue that publication bias results in less studies with negative conclusions being published and that current tests on executive function are inaccurate and inconclusive.


Yong, E. (Feb, 10, 2016)The Bitter Fight Over the Benefits of Bilingualism The Atlantic

Bilingualism Improves Executive Function in the Brain:

Bialystok, E., Craik, F.I.M., Klein, R., &amp Viswanathan, M. (2004). Bilingualism, Aging, and Cognitive Control: Evidence From the Simon Task. Psychology and Aging, 19(2), 290-303.

Abutalebi, J. &amp Green, D. W. (2008). Control mechanisms in bilingual language production: Neural evidence from language switching studies. Language and Cognitivie Processes, 23(4), 557-582.

Bilingualism Does Not Improve Executive Function in the Brain:

Paap, K. R., Johnson, H. A., &amp Sawi, O. (2015). Bilingual advantages in executive functioning either do not exist or are restricted to very specific and undetermined circumstances. Elsevier, 69, 265-278.

De Bruin, A., Treccani, B., &amp Della Sala, S. (2015).Cognitive Advantage in Bilingualism: An Example of Publication Bias? Psychological Science, 26(1), 99-107.

Conservatism vs. Political Ideology as Motivated Social Cognition:

On one side of this debate, scholars argue that particular personality traits, such as a desire for stability and death anxiety, lend themselves to political conservatism. On the other side, however, scholars contend that extremism on both ends of the political spectrum appeals to particular aspects of an individual’s personality, and that the phenomenon is not limited to conservatism.

Conservatism as Motivated Social Cognition:

Bonanno, G.A., & Jost, J.T. (2006). Conservative shift among high-exposure survivors of the September 11th terrorist attacks. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 28(4), 311-323.

Carney, D.R., Jost, J.T., Gosling, S.D., & Potter, J. (2008). The secret lives of liberals and conservatives: Personality profiles, interaction styles, and the things they leave behind. Political Psychology, 29(6), 807-840.

Cohen, F., Ogilvie, D.M., Solomon, S., Greenberg, J., & Pyszczynski, T. (2005). American roulette: The effect of reminders of death on support for George W. Bush in the 2004 presidential election. Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy, 5(1), 177-187.

Jost, J.T. (1995). Negative illusions: Conceptual clarification and psychological evidence concerning false consciousness. Political Psychology, 16, 397-424.

Jost, J.T. (2006). The end of the end of ideology. American Psychologist, 61, 651-670.

Jost, J.T., & Amodio, D.M. (2012). Political ideology as motivated social cognition: Behavioral and neuroscientific evidence. Motivation and Emotion, 36, 55-64.

Jost, J.T., & Andrews, R. (2011). System justification theory. In D.J. Christie (Ed.) The Encyclopedia of Peace Psychology. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Blackwell.

Jost, J. T., & Banaji, M. R. (1994). The role of stereotyping in system justification and the production of false consciousness. British Journal of Social Psychology, 33, 1–27.

Jost, J.T., Banaji, M.R., & Nosek, B.A. (2004). A decade of system justification theory: Accumulated evidence of conscious and unconscious bolstering of the status quo. Political Psychology, 25, 881–919.

Jost, J.T., Chaikalis-Petritsis, V., Abrams, D., Sidanius, J., van der Toorn, J., & Bratt, C. (2012). Why men (and women) do and do not rebel: Effects of system justification on willingness to protest. Personality and Social Psychological Bulletin, 38, 197-208.

Jost, J.T., Ferderico, C.M., & Napier, J.L., (2009). Political ideology: Its structure, functions, and elective affinities. Annual Review of Psychology, 60, 307-337.

Jost, J.T., Glaser, J., Kruglanski, A.W., & Sulloway, F.J. (2003). Political conservatism as motivated social cognition. Psychological Bulletin, 129, 339-375.

Jost, J.T., & Hunyady, O. (2002). The psychology of system justification and the palliative function of ideology. European Review of Social Psychology, 13, 111–53.

Jost, J.T., & Hunyady, O. (2005). Antecedents and consequences of system justifying ideologies. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 14, 260–265.

Jost, J.T., Kay, A.C., & Thorisdottir, H. (2009). Social and psychological bases of ideology and system justification (series in political psychology). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Jost, J. T., Ledgerwood, A., & Hardin, C. D. (2008). Shared reality, system justification, and the relational basis of ideological beliefs. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 2, 171-186.

Jost, J.T., Napier, J.L., Thorisdottir, H., Gosling, S.D., Palfai, T.P., & Ostafin, B. (2007). Are needs to manage uncertainty and threat associated with political conservatism or ideological extremity? Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 33(7), 989-1007.

Jost, J.T., Nosek, B.A., & Gosling, S.D. (2008). Ideology: Its resurgence in social, personality, and political psychology. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 3(2), 126-136.

Matthews, M., Levin, S., & Sidanius, J. (2009). A longitudinal test of the model of political conservatism as motivated social cognition. Political Psychology, 30(6), 921-936.

Thorisdottir, H., Jost, J.T., Liviatan, I., & Shrout, P.E. (2007). Psychological needs and values underlying left-right political orientation: Cross-national evidence from Eastern and Western Europe. Public Opinion Quarterly, 71(2), 175-203.

Politic al Ideology as Motivated Social Cognition:

Graham, J., & Haidt, J. (2010). Beyond Beliefs: Religion Binds Individuals into Moral Communities. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 14, 140 -150.

Graham, J., & Haidt, J. (2012). Sacred values and evil adversaries: A moral foundations approach. In, M. Mikulincer, & P.R. Shaver (Eds.), The Social psychology of Morality: Exploring the Causes of Good and Evil, (pp. 11-31). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Graham, J., Haidt, J., Koleva, S., Motyl, M., Iyer, R., Wojcik, S., & Ditto, P. H. (2013). Moral Foundations Theory: The pragmatic validity of moral pluralism. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 47, 55-130.

Graham, J., Haidt, J., & Nosek, B. (2009). Liberals and conservatives rely on different sets of moral foundations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 96, 1029-1046.

Graham, J., Nosek, B. A., Haidt, J., Iyer, R., Koleva, S., & Ditto, P. H. (2011). Mapping the moral domain. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 101, 366-385.

Greenberg, J., & Jonas, E. (2003). Psychological motives and political orientation—the Left, the Right, and the Rigid: Comment on Jost et al. Psychological Bulletin, 129(3), 376-382.

Haidt, J., & Graham, J. (2007). When morality opposes justice: Conservatives have moral intuitions that liberals may not recognize. Social Justice Research, 20, 98-116.

Haidt, J., & Graham, J. (2009). Planet of the Durkheimians, where community, authority, and sacredness are foundations of morality. In J.T. Jost, A.C. Kay, & H. Thorisdottir (Eds.), Social and Psychological Bases of Ideology and System Justification, (pp. 371-401). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Haidt, J., Graham, J., & Joseph, C. (2009). Above and below left-right: Ideological narratives and moral foundations. Psychological Inquiry, 20, 110-119.

Skitka, L. J. (2010). The psychology of moral conviction. Personality and Social Psychology Compass, 4, 267–281.

Skitka, L. J. (2012). Moral convictions and moral courage: Common denominators of good and evil. In M. Mikulincer, & P. R. Shaver (Eds.), The social psychology of morality: Exploring the causes of good and evil (pp. 349–365). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Stevens, S.T., Anglin, S.M., & Jussim, L. (in press). The political self. For D. McInerney, R. Craven, H. Marsh, and F. Guay (Eds.) Self-concept, Motivation and Identity: Underpinning Success with Research and Practice.

Tetlock, P. E., Kristel, O. V., Elson, K. S., Green, M. C., & Lerner, J. (2000). The psychology of the unthinkable: Taboo trade-offs, forbidden base rates, and heretical counterfactuals. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 78, 853–870.

Ethnography and Fact-checking:

In 2014, sociologist Alice Goffman published On the Run: Fugitive Life in an American City, a field study that details the six years she spent immersed in the world of young African American men living in inner-city Philadelphia. One aspect of controversy that has arisen from Goffman’s book involves the nature of Ethnography itself. Writers have criticized Goffman, a white, middle-class woman, for studying black, lower-class men, arguing that she misrepresents the life experiences of African-American men, most of whom are not criminals and do not go to jail. Another major critique of Goffman’s work comes from Steven Lubet, a professor at Northwestern University, who claims that Goffman reports exaggerated or unfounded assertions at some points in her book, and at one point inadvertently admits that she might be guilty of convicting a felony.

Alice Goffman:

A Reply to Professor Lubet’s Critique. (University of Wisconsin-Madison, June 2, 2015).

Goffman, A. (2014). On the run: Fugitive life in an American city. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.


Alice Goffman’s Denial of Murder Conspiracy Raises Even More Questions. (New Republic, June 3, 2015).

Betts, D. (2014). The stoop isn’t the jungle. [Review of On the Run: Fugitive life in an American city]. Slate.

Forman Jr., J. (2014). The Society of Fugitives [Review of On the Run: Fugitive life in an American city]. The Atlantic.

Lubet, S. (2015). Ethics on the run [Review of On the Run: Fugitive life in an American city]. The New Rambler.

Sharpe, C. (2014). Black life, annotated [Review of On the Run: Fugitive life in an American city]. The New Inquiry.

Gender Differences:

Proponents of Evolutionary Psychology hold that differences between men and women are biological and result from evolutionary advantages. Scholars who adhere to Social Role Theory, however, argue that any differences between men and women are learned and result from social constructs of gender.

Evolutionary Psychology:

Archer, J. (1996). Sex differences in social behavior: Are the social role and evolutionary explanations compatible? American Psychologist, 51(9), 909-917.

Buss, D.M. (1995). Psychological sex differences: Origins through sexual selection. American Psychologist, 50(3), 164-168.

Buss, D.M. (1996). Sex conflict: Evolutionary insights into feminism and the “Battle of the Sexes.” In D.M. Buss & N.M. Malamuth (Eds.), Sex, power, conflict: Evolutionary and feminist perspectives (296-315). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Buss, D.M., Larsen, R.J, & Westen, D. (1996). Sex differences in jealousy: Not gone, not forgotten, and not explained by alternative hypotheses. Psychological Science, 7(6), 373-375.

Wiederman, M.W. (1993). Evolved gender differences in mate preferences: Evidence from personal advertisements. Ethology and Sociobiology, 14, 331-352.

Wiederman, M.W., & Allgeier, E.R. (1993). Gender differences in sexual jealousy: Adaptionist or social learning explanation? Ethology and Sociobiology, 14, 115-140.

Social Role Theory:

Bussey, K., & Bandura, K. (1999). Social cognitive theory of gender development and differentiation. Psychological Review, 106(4), 676-713.

Eagley, A.H. (1987). Sex differences in social behavior: Comparing social role theory and evolutionary psychology. American Psychologist, 52(12), 1380-1383.

Eagley, A.H., & Steffen, V.J. (1984). Gender stereotypes stem from the distribution of women and men Into social roles. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 46(4), 735-754.

Eagley, A.H., & Wood, W. (1991). Explaining sex differences in social behavior: A meta-analytical perspective. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 17(3), 306-315.

Eagley, A.H., Wood, W., & Diekman, A.B. (2000). Social role theory of sex differences and similarities: A current appraisal. In T. Eckes & H.M. Trautner (Eds.) The developmental social psychology of gender. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.

Harrison, L.A., & Lynch, A.B. (2005). Social role theory and the perceived gender role orientation of athletes. Sex Roles, 52(3-4), 227-236.

Kite, M.E. (1996). Age, gender, and occupational label: A test of social role theory. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 20(3), 361-374.

The Attribution Effect: Based in Ideology or Values?

Scholars who support the Ideological Attribution Effect argue that political conservatives and liberals differ in how they explain behavior. Conservatives are more likely to attribute a certain behavior or outcome to an individual’s personality or character, whereas liberals tend to see the same behavior as a result of situation or context. Other social scientists, however, have demonstrated that the Ideological Attribution Effect is not absolute and can be reversed; both liberals and conservatives will switch positions in explaining behavior if that explanation is more in line with their values.

Ideology (Ideological Attribution Effect):

Bobbio, A., Canova, L., & Mangnelli, A.M. (2010). Conservative ideology, economic conservatism, and causal attributions for poverty and wealth. Current Psychology, 29, 222-234.

Chirumbolo, A., Areni, A., & Sensales, G. (2004). Need for cognitive closure and politics: Voting, political attitudes and attributional style. International Journal of Psychology, 39(4), 245-253.

Haider-Markel, D.P., & Joslyn, M.R. (2008). Beliefs about the origins of homosexuality and support for gay rights: An empirical test of attribution theory. Public Opinion Quarterly, 72(2), 291-310.

Pandey, J., Sinha, Y., Prakash, A., & Tripathi, R.C. (1982). Right-Left political ideologies and attribution of the causes of poverty. European Journal of Social Psychology, 12, 327-331.

Pellegrini, R.J., Queirolo, S.S., Monariez, V.E., & Valenzuela, D.M. (1997). Political identification and perceptions of homelessness: Attributed causality and attitudes on public policy. Psychological Reports, 80, 1139-1148.

Weiner, B., Osborne, D., & Rudolph, U. (2011). An attributional analysis of reactions to poverty: The political ideology of the giver and the perceived morality of the receiver. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 15(2), 199-213.

Williams, S. (1984). Left-right ideological differences in blaming victims. Political Psychology, 5(4), 573-581.

Values (Reversal of the Ideological Attribution Effect):

Morgan, G.S., Mullen, E. & Skitka, L.J. (2010). When values and attributions collide: Liberals’ and conservatives’ values motivate attributions for alleged misdeeds. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 36(9), 1241-1254.

Skitka, L.J., Mullen, E., Griffin, T., Hutchinson, S., & Chamberlin, B. (2002). Dispositions, scripts, or motivated correction? Understanding ideological differences in explanations for social problems. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 83(2), 470-487.

Skitka, L.J., & Washburn, A.N. (in press). Are conservatives from Mars and liberals from Venus? Maybe not so much. In P. Valdesolo & J. Graham (Eds.), Bridging ideological divides.

Are Liberals and Conservatives Equally Prejudiced?

The Ideological Conflict Hypothesis contends that both liberals and conservatives are equally prejudiced and intolerant of groups that are different. The Prejudice Gap View, however, takes the opposite position, claiming that political conservatives are uniquely intolerant due to aspects of their personalities that lend themselves to authoritarianism.

Ideological Conflict Hypothesis:

Brandt, M.J., Reyna, C., Chambers, J.R., Crawford, J.T., & Wetherell, G. (2014). The Ideological-Conflict Hypothesis: Intolerance among both liberals and conservatives. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 23(1). 27-34.

Chambers, J. R., & Melnyk, D. (2006). Why do I hate thee? Conflict misperceptions and intergroup mistrust. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 32, 1295–1311.

Chambers, J. R., Baron, R. S., & Inman, M. L. (2006). Misperceptions in intergroup conflict: disagreeing about what we disagree about. Psychological Science, 17(1), 38–45.

Chambers, J. R., Schlenker, B. R., & Collisson, B. (2013). Ideology and prejudice: The role of value conflicts. Psychological Science, 24, 140–149.

Crawford, J.T. (2014). Ideological symmetries and asymmetries in political intolerance and prejudice toward political activist groups. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 55, 284-298.

Crawford, J.T., & Pilanski, J.M. (2014). Political intolerance, right and left. Political Psychology, 35(6), 841-851.

Sullivan, J. L., Piereson, J., & Marcus, G. E. (1979). An alternative conceptualization of political tolerance: Illusory increases 1950s–1970s. American Political Science Review, 73, 781-794.

Sullivan, J. L., Marcus, G. E., Feldman, S., & Piereson, J. E. (1981). The sources of political tolerance: A multivariate analysis. American Political Science Review, 75, 92-106.

Sullivan, J. L., Shamir, M., Roberts, N. S., & Walsh, P. (1984). Political intolerance and the structure of mass attitudes: A study of the United States, Israel, and New Zealand. Comparative Political Studies, 17, 319-344.

Stenner, K. (2009). Three kinds of conservatism. Psychological Inquiry, 20, 142-159.

Prejudice Gap View:

Adorno, T.W., Frenkel-Brunswik, E., Levinson, D.J., & Sanford, R.N. (1950). The authoritarian personality. Oxford, England: Harpers.

Altemeyer, R.A. (1981). Right-Wing Authoritarianism. University of Manitoba Press.

Altemeyer, R.A. (1988). Enemies of Freedom: Understanding Right-Wing Authoritarianism. Jossey-Bass.

Altemeyer, R.A. (1996). The Authoritarian Specter. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Altemeyer, R.A. (2006). The Authoritarians.

Asbrock, F., Sibley, C.G., & Duckitt, J. (2010). Right‐wing authoritarianism and social dominance orientation and the dimensions of generalized prejudice: A longitudinal test. European Journal of Personality, 24(4), 324-340.

Duckitt, J. (2001). A dual-process cognitive-motivational theory of ideology and prejudice. In M.P. Zanna (Eds.), Advances in Experimental Social Psychology. Emerald Publishing.

Duckitt, J. (2006). Differential effects of right wing authoritarianism and social dominance orientation on outgroup attitudes and their mediation by threat from and competitiveness to outgroups. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 32(5), 684-696.

Duckitt, J., & Sibley, C.G. (2007). Right wing authoritarianism, social dominance orientation and the dimensions of generalized prejudice. European Journal of Personality, 21(2), 113-130.

Duckitt, J., & Sibley, C.G. (2009). A dual-process motivational model of ideology, politics, and prejudice. Psychological Inquiry, 20(2-3), 98-109.

Duckitt, J., & Sibley, C.G. (2010). Personality, ideology, prejudice, and politics: A dual‐process motivational model. Journal of personality, 78(6), 1861-1894.

Duckitt, J., Wagner, C., du Plessis, I., & Birum, I. (2002). The psychological bases of ideology and prejudice: Testing a dual process model. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 83(1), 75-93.

Sibley, C.G., & Duckitt, J. (2008). Personality and prejudice: A meta-analysis and theoretical review. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 12(3), 248-279.

Sibley, C.G., Wilson, M.S., & Duckitt, J. (2007). Effects of dangerous and competitive worldviews on right‐wing authoritarianism and social dominance orientation over a five‐month period. Political Psychology, 28(3), 357-371.

Sidanius, J., Deverux, E., & Pratto, F. (1992). A comparison of symbolic racism theory and social dominance theory as explanations for racial policy attitude. Journal of Social Psychology, 132(3), 377-395.

Sidanius, J. Pratto, F., & Bobo, L. (1996). Racism, conservatism, affirmative action, and intellectual sophistication: A matter of principled conservatism or group dominance? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 70(3), 476-490.

Moral Monism vs. Moral Pluralism:

Advocates of Moral Monism argue that there is a single, ultimate moral value, without which we cannot make moral and ethical judgments. Moral Pluralists believe that there are no moral absolutes. Many pluralists also support the Moral Foundations Theory, which describes several basic tenets of morality that are shared across all cultures.

Moral Monism:

Callicott, J.B. (1990). The case against moral pluralism. Environmental Ethics, 12, 2, 99-124.

Gilligan, C. (1982). In a different voice: Psychological theory and women’s development. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Gray, K., Young, L., & Waytz, A. (2012). Mind perception is the essence of morality. Psychological Inquiry, 23, 101-124.

Greene, J.D. (2013). Moral tribes: Emotion, reason, and the gap between us and them. New York, NY: Penguin Press.

Greene, J.D., Morelli, S.A., Lowenberg, K., Nystrom, L.E., Cohen, J.D. (2008). Cognitive load selectively interferes with utilitarian moral judgment. Cognition, 107, 1144-1154.

Kohlberg, L. (1969). Stage and sequence: The cognitive-developmental approach to socialization. In D. A. Goslin (Ed.), Handbook of socialization theory and research (pp. 347-480). Chicago: Rand McNally.

Kohlberg, L. (1971). From is to ought: How to commit the naturalistic fallacy and get away with it in the study of moral development. In T. Mischel (Ed.), Psychology and Genetic Epistemology (pp. 151-235). New York: Academic Press.

Kohlberg, L., Levine, C., & Hewer, A. (1983). Moral stages: A current formulation and a response to critics. Basel, Switzerland: Karger.

Nucci, L., & Turiel, E. (1978). Social interactions and the development of social concepts in preschool children. Child Development, 49, 400–407.

Piaget, J. (1932/1965). The Moral Judgment of the Child. (M. Gabain, Trans.). New York: Free Press.

Turiel, E. (1983). The development of social knowledge: Morality and convention. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Moral Pluralism:

Graham, J., & Haidt, J. (2010). Beyond Beliefs: Religion Binds Individuals into Moral Communities. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 14, 140 -150.

Graham, J., & Haidt, J. (2012). Sacred values and evil adversaries: A moral foundations approach. In, M. Mikulincer, & P.R. Shaver (Eds.), The Social psychology of Morality: Exploring the Causes of Good and Evil, (pp. 11-31). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Graham, J., Haidt, J., Koleva, S., Motyl, M., Iyer, R., Wojcik, S., & Ditto, P. H. (2013). Moral Foundations Theory: The pragmatic validity of moral pluralism. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 47, 55-130.

Graham, J., & Iyer, R. The unbearable vagueness of “essence”: Forty-four clarification questions for Gray, Young, and Waytz. Psychological Inquiry, 23, 162-165.

Graham, J., Nosek, B. A., Haidt, J., Iyer, R., Koleva, S., & Ditto, P. H. (2011). Mapping the moral domain. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 101, 366-385.

Haidt, J. (2001). The emotional dog and its rational tail: A social intuitionist approach to moral judgment. Psychological Review, 108, 814-834.

Haidt, J. (2007). The new synthesis in moral psychology. Science, 316, 998-1002.

Haidt, J. (2008). Morality. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 3, 65-72.

Haidt, J. (2012). The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion. New York, NY: Pantheon.

Haidt, J., & Graham, J. (2007). When morality opposes justice: Conservatives have moral intuitions that liberals may not recognize. Social Justice Research, 20, 98-116.

Haidt, J., & Graham, J. (2009). Planet of the Durkheimians, where community, authority, and sacredness are foundations of morality. In J.T. Jost, A.C. Kay, & H. Thorisdottir (Eds.), Social and Psychological Bases of Ideology and System Justification, (pp. 371-401). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Haidt, J., Graham, J., & Joseph, C. (2009). Above and below left-right: Ideological narratives and moral foundations. Psychological Inquiry, 20, 110-119.

Haidt, J., & Kesebir, S. (2010). Morality. In S. Fiske, D. Gilbert, & G. Lindzey (Eds.) Handbook of Social Psychology, 5th Edition, (pp. 797-832). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Power of Situation vs. Power of Personality:

Some social scientists claim that the power of situation is strongest in determining behavior; most people will behave in predictable ways when placed into circumstances that force them to do so. For example, Philip Zimbardo’s 1971 study, the Stanford Prison Experiment, demonstrated that many otherwise normal individuals became cruel abusive when given positions of power as prison guards. Other social scientists, however, think that the power of personality is stronger than situation, and that an individual’s character is the largest determinant of his or her actions.

Power of Situation:

Benjamin Jr., L.T., & Simpson, J.A. (2009). The power of the situation: The impact of Milgram’s obedience studies on personality and social psychology. American Psychologist, 64(1), 12-19.

Reis, H.T. Reinvigorating the concept of situation in social psychology. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 12(4), 311-329.

Ross, L., & Nisbett, R. (1991). The person and the situation: Perspectives of social psychology. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press.

Zimbardo, P.G. (2004). A Situationist Perspective on the Psychology of Evil: Understanding How Good People Are Transformed into Perpetrators. In Arthur Miller (Ed.), The social psychology of good and evil: Understanding our capacity for kindness and cruelty. New York: Guilford.

Zimbardo, P.G. (2007). Revisiting the Stanford Prison Experiment: A lesson in the power of situation. The Chronicle of Higher Education, 53(30).

Power of Personality:

Anderson, C., Spataro, S.E., & Flynn, F.J. (2008). Personality and organizational culture as determinants of influence. Journal of Applied Psychology, 93(3), 702-710.

Fleeson, W., & Noftle, E.E. (2008). Where does personality have its influence? A supermatrix of consistency concepts. Journal of Personality, 76(6), 1355-1386.

Funder, D.C., & Fast, L.A. (2010). Personality in social psychology. In S.T. Fiske, D.T. Gilbert, & G. Lindzey (Eds.) Handbook of social psychology. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Mischel, W. (2009). From Personality and Assessment (1968) to personality science, 2009. Journal of Research in Personality, 43(2), 282-290.

Mischel, W., & Shoda, Y. (1995). A cognitive-affective system theory of personality: Reconceptualizing situations, dispositions, dynamics, and invariance in personality structure. Psychological Review, 102(2), 246-268.

Roberts, B.W., Kuncel, N.R., Shiner, R., Caspi, A., & Goldber, L.R. (2007). The power of personality: The comparative validity of personality traits, socioeconomic status, and cognitive ability for predicting important life outcomes. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 2(4), 313-345.

Sherman, R.A., Nave, C.S., & Funder, D.C. (2010). Situational similarity and personality predict behavioral consistency. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 99(2), 330-343.

Wayne, J.H., Musisca, N., & Fleeson, W. (2004). Considering the role of personality in the work–family experience: Relationships of the big five to work–family conflict and facilitation. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 64(1), 108-130.

Symbolic Racism vs. Principled Conservatism:

Symbolic Racism describes the new way in which people discriminate against African-Americans. It is based on the idea that racism is over in America and African-Americans are to blame for their troubles, and manifests in support for particular political ideologies and policies. Principled Conservatism, however, maintains that traditional conservative ideologies are not inherently tied to racism, and many people support conservative policies because of their sincerely held political beliefs, not because of racial prejudices.

Symbolic Racism:

Green, E.G.T., Staerklé, C., & Sears, D.O. (2006). Symbolic racism and Whites’ attitudes towards punitive and preventive crime policies. Law and Human Behavior, 30, 435-454.

Henry, P.J., & Sears, D.O. (2002). The symbolic racism 2000 scale. Political Psychology, 23(2), 253–283.

Kinder, D.R., & Sears, D.O. (1981). Prejudice and politics: Symbolic racism versus racial threats to the good life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 40(3), 414-431.

Rabinowitz, J.L., Sears, D.O., Sidanius, J., & Krosnick, J.A. (2009). Why do White Americans oppose race-targeted policies? Clarifying the impact of symbolic racism. Political Psychology, 30(5), 805-828.

Sears, D.O., & Henry, P.J. (2003). The origins of symbolic racism. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 85(2), 259-275.

Sears, D.O., & Henry, P.J. (2005). Over thirty years later: A contemporary look at symbolic racism. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 37, 95-150.

Tarman, C., & Sears, D.O. (2005). The conceptualization and measurement of symbolic racism. The Journal of Politics, 67(3), 731-761.

Valentino, N.A., & Sears, D.O. (2005). Old times there are not forgotten: Race and partisan realignment in the contemporary South. American Journal of Political Science, 49(3), 672-688.

Principled Conservatism:

Gomez, B.T., & Wilson, J.M. (2006). Rethinking symbolic racism: Evidence of attribution bias. Journal of Politics, 68(3), 611-625.

Reyna, C., & Henry, P.J. (2006). Examining the principles in principled conservatism: The role of responsibility stereotypes as cues for deservingness in racial policy decisions. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 90(1), 109-128.

Sniderman, P.M., & Carmines, E.G. (1997). Reaching beyond race. PS: Political Science and Politics, 30(3), 466-471.

Sniderman, P.M., Crosby, G.C., & Howell, W.G. (2000). The politics of race. In D.O. Sears, J. Sidanius, & L. Bobo (Eds.), Racialized Politics: The debate about racism in America (236-279). Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Sniderman, P.M., & Piazza, T. (1995). The scar of race. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press.

Sniderman, P.M., & Tetlock, P.E. (1986). Reflections on American racism. Journal of Social Issues, 42(2), 173-187.

Sniderman, P.M., & Tetlock, P.E. (1986). Symbolic racism: Problems of motive attribution in political analysis. Journal of Social Issues, 42(2), 129-150.

What Does the Implicit Association Test (IAT) Measure?

The IAT is a test designed to measure a subject’s unconscious biases, even if they do not act on them or profess them publicly. Some social scientists claim that the IAT can accurately assess an individual’s prejudices and discriminatory beliefs that he or she does not consciously express, but which still play an important role in determining his or her actions. Other scientists argue that the IAT is flawed and that the individual biases it purports to detect might actually be shared cultural ideas that do not necessarily correspond to prejudice.

IAT: Fad or fabulous? (American Psychological Association, July/August, 2009).

Implicit Prejudice and Likelihood of Discriminatory Behavior:

Banaji, M. R., Nosek, B. A., & Greenwald. A. G. (2004). No place for nostalgia in science: A response to Arkes and Tetlock. Psychological Inquiry, 15, 279 –289.

Fazio, R. H., & Olson, M. A. (2003). Implicit measures in social cognition research: Their meaning and uses. Annual Review of Psychology, 54, 297–327.

Greenwald, A. G., & Krieger, L. H. (2006). Implicit bias: Scientific foundations. California Law Review, 94, 945–967.

Greenwald, A. G., McGhee, D. E., & Schwartz, J. L. K. (1998). Measuring individual differences in implicit cognition: The implicit association test. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74, 1464–1480.

Greenwald, A. G., Nosek, B. A., & Banaji, M. R. (2003). Understanding and using the Implicit Association Test: I. An improved scoring algorithm. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 85, 197–216.

Greenwald, A. G., Poehlman, T. A., Uhlmann, E. L., & Banaji, M. R. (2009). Understanding and using the Implicit Association Test: III. Meta-analysis of predictive validity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 97, 17– 41. doi:10.1037/a0015575

Heider, J., & Skowronski, J. (2007). Improving the predictive validity of the Implicit Association Test. North American Journal of Psychology, 9, 53-76.

Jost, J. T., Rudman, L. A., Blair, I. V., Carney, D., Dasgupta, N., Glaser, J., & Hardin, C. D. (2009). The existence of implicit bias is beyond reasonable doubt: A refutation of ideological and methodological objections and executive summary of ten studies that no manager should ignore. Research in Organizational Behavior, 29, 39–69.

McConnell, A. R., & Leibold, J. M. (2001). Relations among the Implicit Association Test, discriminatory behavior, and explicit measures of racial attitudes. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 37, 435– 442.

Rudman, L. A., Greenwald, A. G., Mellott, D. S., & Schwartz, J. L. K. (1999). Measuring the automatic components of prejudice: Flexibility and generality of the Implicit Association Test. Social Cognition, 17, 437– 465.

Ziegert, J.C., & Hanges, P.J. (2009). Strong rebuttal for weak criticisms: Reply to Blanton et al. (2009). Journal of Applied Psychology, 94, 3, 590-597.

Shared Cultural Knowledge:

Arkes, H. R., & Tetlock, P. E. (2004). Attributions of implicit prejudice, or “Would Jesse Jackson ‘fail’ the Implicit Association Test?” Psychological Inquiry, 15, 257–279.

Blanton, H., & Jaccard, J. (2006). Arbitrary metrics in psychology. American Psychologist, 61, 27– 41.

Blanton, H., Jaccard, J., Klick, J., Mellers, B., Mitchell, G., & Tetlock, P. E. (2009). Strong claims and weak evidence: Reassessing the predictive validity of the IAT. Journal of Applied Psychology, 94, 567–582.

Blanton, H., & Mitchell, G. (2011). Reassessing the Predictive Validity of the IAT II: Reanalysis of Heider & Skowronski (2007). North American Journal of Psychology, 13, 1, 99-106.

Mitchell, G., & Tetlock, P. E. (2006). Antidiscrimination law and the perils of mindreading. Ohio State Law Journal, 67, 1023–1121.

Oswald, F. L., Mitchell, G., Blanton, H., Jaccard, J., & Tetlock, P. E. (2013). Predicting ethnic and racial discrimination: A meta-analysis of IAT criterion studies. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 105, 171–192.

Tetlock, P.E., & Mitchell, G. (2008). Calibrating prejudice in milliseconds. Social Psychology Quarterly, 71, 12–16.

Tetlock, P.E., & Mitchell, G. (2009). Implicit Bias and Accountability Systems: What Must Organizations do to Prevent Discrimination? Research in Organizational Behavior, 29, 3–38.

Did Gregor Mendel Commit Scientific Fraud?:

Gregor Mendel was a monk whose experiments with pea plants established many of the principles of heredity. His work became the foundation of the modern field of genetics. While his discoveries proved to be true, there is an ongoing debate over whether Mendel’s data was falsified or altered after R.A. Fisher published a paper in 1936 questioning the data’s validity. Those who believe Mendel is guilty of fraud argue that his data is too accurate and that it is statistically not probable to get results that meet the theoretical expectation that well. Also, It is statistically unlikely that Mendel did not encounter linked genetic traits in peas or through his experiments on other plants. It is highly likely that he encountered linkage but chose not to report it because it would complicate his theory. It is thought that Mendel may have ordered the posthumous destruction of his work. “Given Mendel’s vast data, his personality, and his conviction about the importance of his work, a decision to condemn his records to the flames is compatible with the possibility that he was aware of some irregularities in the records.” (Nissani, 184)

However, scientific fraud would seem out of character for Mendel. Mendel reported observations on beans and later hawkweeds which were inconsistent with his theory. If Mendel had indeed been doctoring the data one would expect him to have omitted these details. Also, Mendel’s remaining documents reveal great attention to detail and precision. Efforts to statistically reconcile Mendel’s data have been unsuccessful with various statisticians concluding that the data is indeed too accurate. Some refute these statistical analysis as inaccurate because they are based on very specific sample sizes that were inferred from Mendel’s paper.

Matt Nissani argues that it is possible that Mendel did indeed commit fraud by knowingly falsifying data but did so for the advancement of science. Mendel did urge others to replicate his experiments and continue studying his discovery. Fisher even speculated that Mendel may have unknowingly used altered data provided by an assistant. However, given Mendel’s character many doubt that he would leave such important parts of his experiment to an assistant. Although many other theories exist on whether Mendel did commit scientific fraud or not because his original data sets no longer exist it seems unlikely that we will ever reach a definitive conclusion. Unless we were able to recover Mendel’s missing notebooks it is not possible to know whether the perceived inaccuracies in his data are legitimate or if they were caused by Mendel having poor standards (especially when compared to modern standards for scientific research) for his scientific experiments, directly altering the data, being unconsciously biased, or unknowingly using altered data.


Nissani, M. (1994). Psychological, Historical, And Ethical Reflections on the Mendelian Paradox. Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, 37(2), 182-196.

Franklin, A. (1938). University of Pittsburgh, Digital Research Library. Ending the Mendel-Fisher Controversy


Fisher, R.A. (1936). Has Mendel’s Work Been Rediscovered?

Price, M. (2010). Sins Against Science. American Psychological Association, 41(7), 44

Not Fraud:

Hartl, D.L. &amp Fairbanks, D.J. (2007) Mud Sticks: On the Alleged Falsification of Mendel’s Data. Genetics, 175(3), 975-979

Fairbanks, D.J. &amp Rytting, B. (2001) Mendelian Controversies: a botanical and historical review. American Journal of Botany, 88(5), 737-752

Real World Results (Understanding Science, UC Berkeley)

Stereotype Threat and Academic Performance:

Steele and Aronson provide evidence supporting the theory of stereotype threat, showing that African American students perform worse on tests when they are aware of negative academic stereotypes about their race. They claim that when no stereotype threat is present, African American students perform as well as white students. But Sackett et al and Jussim et al point out that Steele and Aronson adjusted test scores based on differences in SAT scores, and argue that it is misleading to claim that stereotype threat alone causes disparities in test scores, as those disparities still exist when stereotype threat is eliminated.

Original Articles:

Chalabaev, A., Major, B., Sarrazin, P., & Cury, F. (2012). When avoiding failure
improves performance: Stereotype threat and the impact of performance goals. Motivation and Emotion, 36, 130-142.

Nguyen, H-H, D., & Ryan, A. M. (2008). Does Stereotype Threat Affect Test Performance of Minorities and Women? A Meta-Analysis of Experimental Evidence. Journal of Applied Psychology, 93, 1314-1334.

Schmader, T., Johns, M., & Forbes, C. (2008). An integrated process model of stereotype threat effects on performance. Psychological Review, 115, 335-356.

Spencer, S. J., Logel, C., & Davies, P. G. (2016). Stereotype threat. Annual Review of Psychology, 67, 14.1-14.23.

Spencer, S. J., Steele, C. M., & Quinn, D. M. (1999). Stereotype threat and women’s math performance. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 35, 4-28.

Steele, C. M., & Aronson, J. (1995). Stereotype threat and the intellectual test performance of African Americans. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 69(5), 797.

Walton, G. M., & Spencer, S. J. (2009). Latent ability grades and test scores systematically underestimate the intellectual ability of negatively stereotyped students. Psychological Science, 1132, 1139.