The Conceptual, Cunning, and Conclusive Experiment in Psychology

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Abstract


The ideal experiment in physics must be conceptual, cunning, and conclusive. Adoption of these same standards in psychology has led to experiments that are uninformative and frivolous. We explain why we believe that psychology is fundamentally incompatible with hypothesis-driven theoretical science and conclude that this erodes the logic behind recent proposals to improve psychological research, such as stricter statistical standards, preregistration, and replication. The failure of psychology is not that it is somehow insufficiently scientific but rather that it makes inordinate use of methods that are a mismatch for the aspirations of researchers in the field, at the expense of valuable empirical research.