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Perspect Psychol Sci. 2012 Nov;7(6):555-61. doi: 10.1177/1745691612459059.

A Vast Graveyard of Undead Theories: Publication Bias and Psychological Science's Aversion to the Null.

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Texas A&M International University
Ludwig Maximilian University Munich, Germany.


Publication bias remains a controversial issue in psychological science. The tendency of psychological science to avoid publishing null results produces a situation that limits the replicability assumption of science, as replication cannot be meaningful without the potential acknowledgment of failed replications. We argue that the field often constructs arguments to block the publication and interpretation of null results and that null results may be further extinguished through questionable researcher practices. Given that science is dependent on the process of falsification, we argue that these problems reduce psychological science's capability to have a proper mechanism for theory falsification, thus resulting in the promulgation of numerous "undead" theories that are ideologically popular but have little basis in fact.


fail-safe number; falsification; meta-analyses; null hypothesis significance testing; publication bias


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