Over the past two decades, dozens of behavioral scientists have risen to prominence pointing to the power of small interventions to improve well-being.
Scientists said they have found that automatically enrolling people in organ donor programs will increase donation rates, and that moving healthy foods such as fruit to the front of the buffet line will lead to healthier meals.
Many of these findings have attracted skepticism as other scholars have shown that their effects were smaller than initial claimor that they had very little effect, But in recent days, the field has suffered its most serious blow yet: allegations that a prominent behavioral scientist fabricated results in a number of studies, including at least one that purported to show how to elicit honest behavior. .
Francesca Gino, a Harvard Business School scholar, has co-authored dozens of papers in peer-reviewed journals on such topics as how rituals such as counting silently to 10 before deciding what to eat occur. May increase your chances of choosing healthier foodsand how networking can make you professional scruffy looking,
Maurice Schweitzer, a behavioral scientist at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, said the allegations are having a “huge resonance in the academic community” because Dr. Gino is someone who has “so many collaborators, so many articles, who is really a Leading scholar in the field.
Dr. Schweitzer said he is now studying the eight papers he collaborated on with Dr. Gino for signs of fraud, and so are several other scholars.
Behavioral work is common in psychology, management, and economics, and scholars may extend across these disciplines. According to his resume, Dr. Gino has a Ph.D. Is. in Economics and Management from an Italian University.
Questions came up about his work an article June 16 in The Chronicle of Higher Education about one 2012 paper Written by Dr. Gino and four colleagues. One of Dr. Gino’s co-authors — Max H. Bjarman, also of Harvard Business School — told The Chronicle that the university informed him that a study Dr. Gino supervised for the paper Contains fabricated results.
A 2012 paper reported that asking people filling out tax or insurance documents to verify the veracity of their answers at the top rather than the bottom of the document significantly increased the accuracy of the information they provided. paper cited hundreds of times by other scholars, but more recent work was mold serious doubts on its conclusions.
Dr. Gino did not respond to a request for comment and Harvard Business School declined to comment. A man reached by phone, who identified himself as Dr. Gino’s husband, said, “This is obviously something that is very sensitive that we cannot talk about right now.”
Dr. Bjarman did not respond to a request for comment for this article, but told The Chronicle of Higher Education that he had nothing to do with any of the fabrications.
on June 17 a blog Posted by DataCollada, moderated by three behavioral scientists detailed discussion There is evidence that the results of a study conducted by Dr. Gino for the 2012 paper were falsified. The post said bloggers contacted Harvard Business School in late 2021 to express concerns about Dr. Gino’s work, providing the university with a report that included the 2012 paper as well as three other papers. The fraud involved evidence on which he had cooperated. ,
The blog – by Uri Simonsohn of ESADE Business School in Barcelona, Leif Nelson of the University of California, Berkeley, and Joseph Simons of the University of Pennsylvania – focuses on the integrity and credibility of social science research. The post on Dr. Gino said that Harvard had placed him on administrative leave, a fact that reflected on him business school web pageHowever, no reason was given. Internet Archive, which lists web pages, shows Dr. Gino was not on vacation as recently as mid-May.
The 2012 paper was based on three separate studies. One study supervised by Dr. Gino involved a laboratory experiment in which approximately 100 participants were asked to complete a worksheet containing 20 puzzles and were promised $1 for each puzzle they solved. .
Study participants later filled out a form indicating how much money they earned by solving the puzzles. Participants were led to believe that cheating would not be detected, whereas in fact the researchers could verify how many puzzles they solved.
The study found that participants were more likely to honestly report their puzzle earnings if they verified the accuracy of their answers at the top rather than the bottom of the form.
But in their blog post, Dr. Simonsohn, Dr. Nelson, and Dr. Simons are analyzing the data that Dr. Gino and their co-authors have posted onlineA digital record contained in the Excel file was cited to demonstrate that some data points had been tampered with, and that the tampering helped yield the result.
Last week’s post was not the first time DataCollada watchers had found problems with Dr. Gino and his co-authors’ 2012 paper. one in blog post In August 2021, the same researchers found evidence that another study published in the same paper appeared to rely on fabricated data.
That study relied on data provided by an insurance company, in which customers reported the mileage of the cars covered by their policies. The study found that customers who were asked to attest to the veracity of the information they provided at the top of the form were significantly more honest than customers who were asked to attest to their veracity at the bottom of the form. was asked for.
But through analysis of the raw data, Dr. Simonsohn, Dr. Nelson, and Dr. Simons concluded that many of the data points were created by someone involved with the study, not based on customer information. The journal that published the 2012 paper, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, took it back One month after the blog post was published.
In that case, one of the co-authors of the paper, Dan Ariely of Duke University, was the scholar who obtained the data from the insurance company. Dr. Ariely, one of the world’s best-known behavioral scientists, said in an email Friday that he was “shocked and surprised” to learn that some of the insurance data in the paper was fabricated, “which prompted me to actively” back it. Take it.
DataCollada has been published since blog posts Providing evidence that the results were fabricated came in two other papers in which Dr. Gino was a co-author. The bloggers wrote that they plan to publish another post highlighting the issues in an additional paper they collaborated on.
In interviews and comments on social media, some scholars said that findings in the style of behavioral research in which Dr. Gino specializes, which is closer to psychology, often resemble findings generated by questionable research methods.
There are a range of questionable methods, said Colin Kammerer, a behavioral economist at the California Institute of Technology. p-hacking For example, testing a series of arbitrary data combinations until the researcher arrives at an increased statistical correlation.
In 2015, a team of scholars informed of They tried to replicate the results of 100 studies published in major psychology journals and were successful in less than half of the cases. It has been proven in behavioral studies particularly difficult to replicate.