We consider how valid conclusions often lay hidden within research reports, masked by plausible but unjustified conclusions reached in those reports. We employ several well-known and cross-cutting examples from the psychological literature to illustrate how, independent (or in the absence) of replicability difficulties or questionable research practices leading to false positives, motivated reasoning and confirmation biases can lead to drawing unjustified conclusions. In describing these examples, we review strategies and methods by which researchers can identify such practices in their own and others' research reports. These strategies and methods can unmask hidden phenomena that may conflict with researchers' preferred narratives, in order to ultimately produce more sound and valid scientific conclusions. We conclude with general recommendations for how social psychologists can limit the influence of interpretive biases in their own and others' research, and thereby elevate the scientific status and validity of social psychology.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Social Psychology
- Sociology and Political Science
- Best practices
- Research methods
- Scientific integrity