Replication Studies second round: again repetition of important research

20 December 2018

For the second time, NWO is funding projects from the health and social sciences so that the research of others can be repeated. This concerns eight studies that in the past formed the basis for follow-up research or have assumed an important place in education, policy-making or the public debate.

By replicating such cornerstone research, NWO wants to contribute to increasing the transparency of research and the quality of how results are reported.

The projects are being funded by the NWO pilot programme Replication Studies. This pilot, a collaboration with ZonMw, covers the area of the social sciences and health research and healthcare innovation. The pilot programme must yield insight into an effective way of including a module for replication in all research programmes. From an international perspective, NWO is a trailblazer with this pilot programme.

In the second round, 68 proposals were submitted and 8 of these were awarded funding. The ongoing high demand within the research field for this funding possibility is reflected by the number of proposals submitted.

During the course of 2019, NWO will open the third and last funding round in this pilot. A total of 3 million euros is available for the three funding rounds.

The 8 projects awarded funding, in order of the surname of the researcher, are briefly described below:

Publication prejudices in the peer review system: A replication study

Dr M. Bakker (Psychology), Tilburg University

In a groundbreaking experiment, Michael Mahoney investigated the publication bias phenomenon forty years ago. He used 75 study subjects for his research and allowed them to assess manuscripts from research that followed identical experimental procedures, but yielded different results. Mahoney discovered that a manuscript with positive results on average received a high assessment score for, among other things, methodology, data presentation and scientific contribution.
Researchers from Tilburg University will replicate the study with a larger sample according to a robust, preregistered design.

Solving arithmetic equations unconsciously

Dr S. Gayet (Psychology), Radboud University

Recent research revealed that people can unconsciously solve arithmetic equations (Sklar and colleagues, in PNAS, 2012). The study received a lot of attention within the academic world and in popular media. It is also interesting from a legal perspective: in which cases can a suspect be held responsible for a crime if the complex planning of this can be realised unconsciously?
The researchers from Radboud University will replicate this research.

May food have your attention please: Do specifically obese individuals show an attention bias for food even when they are satiated?

Prof. dr. P.J. de Jong (Psychology), Rijksuniversiteit Groningen

Replication of: Castellanos, E. H., Charboneau, E. Dietrich, M. S., Park, S., Bradley, B. P., Mogg, K., & Cowan, R.L. (2009). Obese adults have visual attention for food cue images: evidence for altered reward system functioning. International Journal of Obesity, 33, 1063-1073.) [No abstract available]

Fear generalization in patients with Panic Disorder: A 5 clinic direct replication of Lissek et al. (2010)

Dr A.M. Krypotos (Psychology), Universiteit Utrecht

How does a person develop a complex panic disorder that started off with a single panic attack? Lissek et al. (2010) were the first to investigate where stimuli could have their origin. The study had broad theoretical and clinical implications. It is now one of the most important examples of the role of anxiety generalisation in panic and other anxiety related disorders. Researchers from Utrecht University will repeat the experiment in five international clinics.

Replication of the effect of light or moderate alcohol consumption during pregnancy on cognitive outcomes in children using Mendelian randomization

Dr J.A. Labrecque (Epidemiology), Erasmus MC

Researchers from Erasmus MC will replicate two studies that demonstrated a deteriorative effect of mild or moderate alcohol consumption during pregnancy on the cognitive results of the child. The studies have never previously been repeated, but the outcomes did contribute to conflicting reports in the media about drinking alcohol during pregnancy and the health of children. Researchers in Rotterdam will replicate the research on a new cohort to see whether they find the same results.

The building blocks of cognition: core debates in infancy research

Prof. dr. C.C. Levelt (Psychology), Leiden University Centre for Linguistics (LUCL)

The cognitive performance of babies has frequently been investigated, but a large proportion of the experiments are too limited. Replicating these is a problem as well (Frank et al., 2017). All four baby labs in the Dutch Baby Brain and Cognition Network will replicate two example studies, each of which is of fundamental importance for key debates in the field. These are Marcus, Vijaya, Bandi and Vishton (Science, 1999) who investigated (congenital) learning mechanisms involved in language acquisition and whether these are human specific and language specific, and the study of Kovács and Mehler (PNAS, 2004) about cognitive advantages in bilingualism. Each study will be replicated in the four laboratories.

The competitive advantage of sanctioning institutions revisited: A multi-lab replication of Gürerk et al. (2006)

Dr W. Przepiorka (Sociology), Universiteit Utrecht

In the experiment "The competitive advantage of sanctioning institutions" of Gürerk, Irlenbusch and Rockenbach (Science, 2006) study subjects played a game with public goods, a frequently used experiment to study human collaboration. The most important innovation of Gürerk et al. was that they allowed the studied subjects to choose the institutional regime: with the possibility to sanction or not. However the article was based on single experiment with a small group of study subjects. The researchers from Utrecht University will replicate the study in eight laboratories on four continents.

The evolutionary roots of human social tolerance and cooperation

Prof. dr. E.H.M. Sterck (Psychology), Universiteit Utrecht

People can tolerate each other to an exceptional degree. Forms of collaboration are possible between people that are unknown in the animal kingdom. Efforts to investigate similar behaviour in our near relatives – the bonobo and the chimpanzee – have yielded conflicting results.
Researchers from Utrecht University will replicate a highly influential study from Birch and Bilman about cooperative behaviour among toddlers to compare it to the behaviour of apes. Also two studies about social tolerance and collaboration among apes will be repeated.

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Source: NWO


Mr O.R. (Olivier) Morot, spokesperson Mr O.R. (Olivier) Morot, spokesperson t: +31 (0)6 53175 377