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Is Psychological Research Mystified? - Research, News
Is Psychological Research Mystified? - Research, News

Video: Is Psychological Research Mystified? - Research, News

Video: Is Psychological Research Mystified? - Research, News
Video: How ‘open science’ is changing psychological research, with Brian Nosek, PhD 2023, March

A real boom of articles with "exposure" of psychological theories has broken out in recent days on social networks and in general on the Internet. There are also foreign appearances - Ben Bloom on Medium, Brian Resnick on Vox, and Josh Elliott on Globalnews. And domestic generalizations - "The three main theories of psychology turned out to be hoaxes" in "Present time". But is there really new information in these revelations? Or are such bursts of activity in the media just a pursuit of "hype", not the best, alas, affecting the reputation of psychological science?

Experts' opinions

Evgeny Volkov
Evgeny Volkov

Evgeny Volkov, psychologist, sociologist, candidate of philosophical sciences, critical rationalist, socio-engineer, trainer of critical thinking and ontological reflection

Hype from scratch

“The post about the alleged hoaxes of the supposedly main theories of psychology quickly became popular. And many educated and intelligent people drag him into their tapes.

In fact, this publication is itself a hoax, or, more simply, an ordinary journalistic fake to create a hype from scratch

We are dealing with pseudo-exposures of pseudo-mystifications, which in the post-truth era is becoming a widespread genre. Close examination quickly reveals what is well known to any social psychologist.

5 reasons against revelations


The listed theories are not the main ones in psychology, and we are talking not so much about theories as about experiments.


All the details of the falsification about the “25th frame” have been well known for 50 years, as well as the failure of the hypothesis itself. At one time I had an internship with Professor E. Pratkanis, who set up his own experiments on subliminal effects, the results of which were included in textbooks. He himself gave a wonderful lecture to students about Vicary's fraud, and that was almost 20 years ago.

The authors of the present "disclosure" have learned well the "forgotten old - sensational new" trick

The fake concept has gained popularity thanks to journalists who make money from both promoting pseudoscience and its half-century belated revelation.


Attempts to criticize and reinterpret S. Milgram's experiment have been undertaken for a long time, and among them there are quite serious and interesting ones. However, no professional researcher will do this simply on the basis of the subjective “confessions” of the participants after the experiment.

It is exclusively about the discrepancy in the interpretation of the results by S. Milgram himself and his experimental subjects. The experimenter could be mistaken in preferring his own interpretation, to which he had every right and which he tried to justify in the best way.

Nobody hid or falsified the data on the opinions of the subjects, so there can be no question of any hoax


All the "sensational, unexpectedly revealed" details of F. Zimbardo's prison experiment were described decades ago in textbooks and captured in documentary filming. Only textbooks need to be searched and read, documentary filming must also be searched and watched. Or you can just believe some unknown "whistleblower".

Back in the 1990s, I showed my students and training participants real footage of F. Zimbardo's prison experiment and used a translation of the original report about it. There is everything in the very first frames and the first lines about instructing the “supervisors” and about imitation of psychosis by one of the subjects. And there is already the answer of F. Zimbardo himself, who, fortunately, is still alive, in contrast to S. Milgram.


I wonder how many more such fabricated “revelations” must burst into the brains of gullible people with a stinking slurry so that these brains either completely dissolve or begin to learn critical thinking in order to cleanse themselves?

It is understandable, however, why the experiments of Milgram and Zimbardo arouse such continuing interest and so many attempts to refute or discredit. They provided such unpleasant and inconvenient facts about human imperfection and the lack of confident rational self-control that they constantly cause the desire to trample in the mud and forget.

Crisis Brings Cleansing

Boris Zubkov
Boris Zubkov

Boris Zubkov, psychologist, member of the British Psychological Society, head of the Mindware Lab

“All these texts are rather bitter reading. It is enough that they just appeared on the air - and now the name of F. Zimbardo, previously ranked among the most prominent psychologists in history, is now associated with the seller who slipped the rotten fish. But in fact, the whole trouble is that over the past few years psychology has been shaken by a not weak crisis, accompanied by news about the fabrication of research, the corruption of scientists, etc.

Many classic studies are presented as fake, fictitious, or not supported at all. A great reason for some people to once again spit in the direction of psychology, adding that this once again proves that it has never been and never will be a science. That all psychology is nonsense, lies and a bunch of platitudes.

The only consolation: this crisis brings purification to psychology, more critical attitude and even sets the bar for other sciences in many ways

Thanks to the crisis, research is becoming more thoughtful and transparent even before it starts."

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