Psychology’s Largest Attempt at Replication, the Trouble With a Plastic Bag Ban, plus more weekly links


A selection of recent behavioral science news, articles, and resources of note:

  • Hundreds of researchers from around the world spent the last three years trying replicate 100 studies from three top psychology journals. Their success rate was 39 percent. While at first blush this seems to reflect badly (really badly) on psychology, as Ed Yong writes in The Atlantic, there’s both good and bad news here, as well as a lot of nuance. (Science, The Atlantic)
  • Two years ago, environmentalists in Austin, Texas celebrated a city-wide ban on single-use plastic bags. Yay, environment! But a recent follow-up report shows people just threw away sturdier, reusable bags as if they were disposable, creating more waste and costing more energy, not less. Whoops. (Bloomberg)
  • Before Hurricane Katrina hit, a group of researchers were laying the groundwork for a study on college scholarships and well-being. The storm dashed all chances of completing that study, but they were able to salvage their data for a study on the health effects of Katrina. Ten years on, they’re reporting something interesting: most of the survivors in their study have fully recovered psychologically and as many as a third experienced post-traumatic growth, saying they are stronger for having survived what’s considered the most damaging hurricane in U.S. history. (Nature)
  • How can you spot tax evaders? Just look at their passports. Shankar Vedantam reports on a study with intuitive findings and uncomfortable implications. (NPR)
  • The New York Times Amazon exposé illustrated a “bruising workplace,” where strings of all-nighters, strategic backbiting, and forgoing parenthood are de rigueur. Burnout is high, but so are profits. So, does overwork work? Looking at one angle—long hours—Sarah Green Carmichael reviews the research on the law of diminishing returns: “Keep overworking,” she writes, “and you’ll progressively work more stupidly on tasks that are increasingly meaningless.” (Harvard Business Review)
  • Picking up another angle—stress—the New York Times reports on new research suggesting stress at work can be just harmful to your health as second-hand smoke. Really. (New York Times)
  • Santiago Ramón y Cajal is known for discovering neurons (He won a nobel prize for it). He also painstakingly kept a dream journal because he thought Freud—that “surly and somewhat egotistical Viennese author”—was full of it and wanted to prove him wrong. Previously thought to be lost, his dream journal was rediscovered and then published in Spanish last year. This week, Nautilus has a selection of entries from that diary translated into English for the first time. (Nautilus)


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