Psychology Exceptionalism and the Multiple Discovery of the Replication Crisis
Nelson, Nicole C
Malik, Momin M
Review of General Psychology
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This article outlines what we call the “narrative of psychology exceptionalism” in commentaries on the replication crisis: many thoughtful commentaries link the current crisis to the specificity of psychology’s history, methods, and subject matter, but explorations of the similarities between psychology and other fields are comparatively thin. Historical analyses of the replication crisis in psychology further contribute to this exceptionalism by creating a genealogy of events and personalities that shares little in common with other fields. We aim to rebalance this narrative by examining the emergence and evolution of replication discussions in psychology alongside their emergence and evolution in biomedicine. Through a mixed-methods analysis of commentaries on replication in psychology and the biomedical sciences, we find that these conversations have, from the early years of the crisis, shared a common core that centers on concerns about the effectiveness of traditional peer review, the need for greater transparency in methods and data, and the perverse incentive structure of academia. Drawing on Robert Merton’s framework for analyzing multiple discovery in science, we argue that the nearly simultaneous emergence of this narrative across fields suggests that there are shared historical, cultural, or institutional factors driving disillusionment with established scientific practices.