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Personality and fatal diseases: Revisiting a scientific scandal (Papers: Anthony J Pelosi | February 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on October 14, 2019

During the 1980s and 1990s, Hans J Eysenck conducted a programme of research into the causes, prevention and treatment of fatal diseases in collaboration with one of his protégés, Ronald Grossarth-Maticek. This led to what must be the most astonishing series of findings ever published in the peer-reviewed scientific literature with effect sizes that have never otherwise been encounterered in biomedical research. This article outlines just some of these reported findings and signposts readers to extremely serious scientific and ethical criticisms that were published almost three decades ago. Confidential internal documents that have become available as a result of litigation against tobacco companies provide additional insights into this work. It is suggested that this research programme has led to one of the worst scientific scandals of all time. A call is made for a long overdue formal inquiry.

cancer epidemiology, personality and cancer, personality and heart disease, research ethics, research misconduct

Pelosi, A. J. (2019). Personality and fatal diseases: Revisiting a scientific scandal. Journal of Health Psychology, 24(4), 421–439.
Publisher (Open Access):

Work of renowned UK psychologist Hans Eysenck ruled ‘unsafe’ – The Guardian (Sarah Boseley | October 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on October 14, 2019

Eysenck’s ‘cancer-prone’ personality theory had come under criticism for decades

The work of one of the most famous and influential British psychologists of all time, Hans Eysenck, is under a cloud following an investigation by King’s College London, which has found 26 of his published papers “unsafe”.

King’s says the results and conclusions of the papers “were not considered scientifically rigorous” by its committee of inquiry. Prof Sir Robert Lechler, the provost at King’s, has contacted the editors of the 11 journals where the papers appeared, recommending they should be retracted.

Eysenck, who died in 1997, published prolifically and wrote many well-known books, holding controversial views on a number of subjects, including race and IQ. The investigation centred on research that claimed personality played a bigger part in people’s chances of dying from cancer or heart disease than smoking.

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Doing the right thing: Psychology researchers retract paper three days after learning of coding error – Retraction Watch (Adam Marcus | August 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on August 21, 2019

The news you’ve made a critical error in the analysis of a project’s data can be devastating.  Particularly given the career harming consequences that can be associated with retractions.  So, like Retraction Watch, we congratulate this psychology team for their prompt and responsible actions.

We always hesitate to call retraction statements “models” of anything, but this one comes pretty close to being a paragon.

Psychology researchers in Germany and Scotland have retracted their 2018 paper in Acta Psychologica after learning of a coding error in their work that proved fatal to the results. That much is routine. Remarkable in this case is how the authors lay out what happened next.

The study, “Auditory (dis-)fluency triggers sequential processing adjustments:”

investigated as to whether the challenge to understand speech signals in normal-hearing subjects would also lead to sequential processing adjustments if the processing fluency of the respective auditory signals changes from trial to trial. To that end, we used spoken number words (one to nine) that were either presented with high (clean speech) or low perceptual fluency (i.e., vocoded speech as used in cochlear implants-Experiment 1; speech embedded in multi-speaker babble noise as typically found in bars-Experiment 2). Participants had to judge the spoken number words as smaller or larger than five. Results show that the fluency effect (performance difference between high and low perceptual fluency) in both experiments was smaller following disfluent words. Thus, if it’s hard to understand, you try harder.

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Does psychology have a conflict-of-interest problem? – Nature (Tom Chivers | July 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on August 5, 2019

Some star psychologists don’t disclose in research papers the large sums they earn for talking about their work. Is that a concern?

Generation Z has made Jean Twenge a lot of money. As a psychologist at San Diego State University in California, she studies people born after the mid-1990s, the YouTube-obsessed group that spends much of its time on Instagram, Snapchat and other social-media platforms. Thanks to smartphones and sharing apps, Generation Z has grown up to be more narcissistic, anxious and depressed than older cohorts, she argues. Twenge calls them the ‘iGen’ generation, a name she says she coined. And in 2010, she started a business, iGen Consulting, “to advise companies and organizations on generational differences based on her expertise and research on the topic”.

Twenge has “spoken at several large corporations including PepsiCo, McGraw-Hill, nGenera, Nielsen Media, and Bain Consulting”, one of her websites notes. She delivers anything from 20-minute briefings to half-day workshops, and is also available to speak to parents’ groups, non-profit organizations and educational establishments. In e-mail exchanges, she declined to say how much she earns from her advisory work, but fees for star psychologists can easily reach tens of thousands of dollars for a single speech, and possibly much more, several experts told Nature.

Twenge’s academic papers don’t mention her paid speeches and consulting. Yet that stands in stark contrast to the conflict-of-interest (COI) guidelines issued by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE), an influential organization whose standards have been widely adopted by many medical and some psychology journals. Those guidelines say that such ‘personal fees’ should be declared as potential COIs in research papers because readers should be made aware of any financial interests that they might perceive as potentially influencing the findings.

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