The researcher who critiqued himself in public

It’s probably not a mere fairy tale. A researcher publicly criticized in detail some of his own published studies. (Frenzied mobs might now appear to criticize that criticism — presumably this researcher would more or less welcome such efforts.)

Todd B. Kashdan, Associate Professor of Psychology at George Mason University, writes in Psychology Today:

todd_kashdanLet me share the lessons learned from 5 research publications that don’t sit well with me. This is my confession. For those of you who aren’t scientists, you need to know an important truth. Just because research is published in a peer-reviewed journal by a reputable publisher does not mean the science is good….

Kashdan, T.B., Collins, R.L., & Elhai, J.D. (2006). Social anxiety, positive outcome expectancies, and risk-taking behavioral intentions. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 30, 749-761.… And thus, this study is nonsense…. An important lesson is that if you want to understand what people do, make sure that you measure what people do. Be skeptical about research that only measures what people expect to do because people are horrendous at predicting how they will feel in the future and what they plan to do….

Steger, M.F., Hicks, B., Kashdan, T.B., Krueger, R.F., Bouchard, T.J., Jr. (2007). Genetic and environmental influences on the positive traits of the Values in Action classification, and biometric covariance with normal personality. Journal of Research in Personality, 41, 524-539.… This study gives the illusion that we can surgically separate nature and nurture, which we cannot….

Kashdan, T.B. et al. (2011). Posttraumatic distress and the presence of posttraumatic growth and meaning in life: Experiential avoidance as a moderator. Personality and Individual Differences, 50, 84-89.… Here’s a not-so-hidden secret about research – if you ask a question, people will answer it, even if the question doesn’t make sense or is far beyond their computational capacities. Don’t blindly trust the measures that researchers use…

Kashdan, T.B., Rose, P., & Fincham, F.D. (2004). Curiosity and exploration: Facilitating positive subjective experiences and personal growth opportunities. Journal of Personality Assessment, 82,  291-305.… This is my most widely cited paper. We measured two dimensions of curiosity and I can tell you now that one of them is wrong.

(Thanks to Ed Yong for bringing this to our attention.)