I was chatting with some people the other day and the ridiculous voodoo study came up, and that reminded me of an article, “The more you play, the more aggressive you become: A long-term experimental study of cumulative violent video game effects on hostile expectations and aggressive behavior,” published several years ago in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.
As we discussed a few years after the paper came out, this article had a huge, huge, HUGE problem, which was that it claimed it was a “long-term experimental study”—that’s right in the title!—but the actual study was not long-term in any way. As I wrote:
What was “long term,” you might wonder? 5 years? 10 years? 20 years? Were violent video games even a “thing” 20 years ago?
Nope. By “long-term” here, the authors mean . . . 3 days.
In addition, the treatment is re-applied each day. So we’re talking about immediate, short-term effects.
I’ve heard of short-term thinking, but this is ridiculous! Especially given that the lag between the experimental manipulation and the outcome measure is, what, 5 minutes? The time lag isn’t stated in the published paper, so we just have to guess.
3 days, 5 minutes, whatever. Either way it’s not in any way “long term.” Unless you’re an amoeba.
Ok, this is not news, indeed it wasn’t even news when I posted on it back in 2018. But it’s still buggin me. As Michael Kinsley said so many years ago, and he was just so so so right on this one, the scandal isn’t what’s illegal, the scandal is what’s legal.
So, the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology published a paper back in 2014 with a blatant error RIGHT IN THE TITLE, and do they retract it? Does anyone even care? No and no.
For your reference, here it is:
Yes, I looked up the erratum listed there, and, no, the erratum does not clarify that the title of the paper is at best extremely misleading and at worst the most horrible thing published in a psychology journal since the critical positivity ratio people dined alone.
But, no, of course nobody would consider doing something about this. It wasn’t noticed by four authors, three peer reviewers, an associate editor, and an editor. Kinda makes you wonder, huh?
I will keep screaming about this sort of thing forever.