- Not Exactly Rocket Science
A failed replication draws a scathing personal attack from a psychology professor
First, a recap. The original study, published in 1996, is indeed a classic. According to Google Scholar, it has been cited almost 2,000 times. Here’s how I described it in my post:
John Bargh and his colleagues found that infusing people’s minds with the concept of age could slow their movements (PDF). The volunteers in the study had to create a sentence from scrambled words pick the odd word from a group of scrambled ones. When this word related to being old, the volunteers walked more slowly when they left the laboratory. They apparently didn’t notice anything untoward about the words, but their behaviour changed nonetheless.
Surprisingly, this prominent result has seldom been replicated. There have been two