Difficulties with Replication and Vulnerability of Refutation: the Case of “Ego Depletion Effect” 144
Doctor of Psychology, Head of International Laboratory of Positive Psychology of Personality and Motivation, National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia
The aim of the paper is highlighting problems associated with attempts to replicate well-known psychological experiments on the example of the effect of depletion of self-regulation resource, or “ego depletion” (Roy Baumeister). The publication of this effect in 1998 was followed by a long and rich history of its checking in varied modifications, attempts to investigate its neurophysiological basis, metaanalyses which provided incoherent results and alternative explanations. The discussions around this effect became especially active in the last five years, when several attempts were published to replicate the effect by joint efforts of a number of independent laboratories; the results were again contradictory. The limitations of the possibility of exact replications are shown on the example of these attempts. The replications, the results of which fail to reproduce the results of the initial study are not to be viewed without reservations as the proofs of invalidation of the initial study, even if they are performed methodologically faultlessly. At the same time, their value consists in the opportunities of considering additional conditions which were initially left without proper consideration, as well as in the emerging alternative explanations.
The study was funded by Russian Science Foundation (RSCF), project number 16-18- 10439 “Systems Dynamic Analysis of Activity Regulation”.
The author is grateful to Prof. Roy Baumeister for the provision of relevant materials and to Dr. Evgeny Osin for valuable comments which allowed to improve the text of the paper.
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