Original Study Finds A Result. Follow-up Studies Fail to Replicate It. The Record is Corrected. Right?

[From the post “A study fails to replicate, but it continues to get referenced as if it had no problems. Communication channels are blocked.” by Andrew Gelman at Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science]
“In 2005, Michael Kosfeld, Markus Heinrichs, Paul Zak, Urs Fischbacher, and Ernst Fehr published a paper, ‘Oxytocin increases trust in humans.’ According to Google, that paper has been cited 3389 times.”
“In 2015, Gideon Nave, Colin Camerer, and Michael McCullough published a paper, ‘Does Oxytocin Increase Trust in Humans? A Critical Review of Research,’ where they reported:”
“Behavioral neuroscientists have shown that the neuropeptide oxytocin (OT) plays a key role in social attachment and affiliation in nonhuman mammals. Inspired by this initial research, many social scientists proceeded to examine the associations of OT with trust in humans over the past decade. . . . Unfortunately, the simplest promising finding associating intranasal OT with higher trust [that 2005 paper] has not replicated well.”
“…The paper’s only been out 3 years. Let’s look at recent citations, since 2017:”
– “Oxytocin increases trust in humans: 377 citations”
– “Does Oxytocin Increase Trust in Humans? A Critical Review of Research: 49 citations”
“…Just to be clear, I’m not saying the old paper should be getting zero citations. It may well have made an important contribution for its time, and even if its results don’t stand up to replication, it could be worth citing for historical reasons. But, in that case, you’d want to also cite the 2015 article pointing out that the result did not replicate.”
“The pattern of citations suggests that, instead, the original finding is still hanging on, with lots of people not realizing the problem.”
To read more, click here.

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