Failure to replicate intelligence-priming effects ignites row in research community
Thinking about a professor just before you take an intelligence test makes you perform better than if you think about football hooligans. Or does it? An influential theory that certain behavior can be modified by unconscious cues is under serious attack.
A paper published in PLoS ONE last week reports that nine different experiments failed to replicate this example of ‘intelligence priming’, first described in 1998 by Ap Dijksterhuis, a social psychologist at Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands, and now included in textbooks.
David Shanks, a cognitive psychologist at University College London, UK, and first author of the paper in PLoS ONE, is among skeptical scientists calling for Dijksterhuis to design a detailed experimental protocol to be carried out indifferent laboratories to pin down the effect. Dijksterhuis has rejected the request, saying that he “stands by the general effect” and blames the failure to replicate on “poor experiments”.