Harvard Scholar Who Studies Honesty Is Accused of Fabricating Findings

The paper in question, "Behavioral Research: Unreliable and Inaccessible," has been cited over 100 times.The paper is being questioned for its methods.

Harvard Scholar Who Studies Honesty Is Accused of Fabricating Findings

In the last two decades, behavioral scientists have become prominent in pointing out that small interventions can improve wellbeing.

Scientists said that they found that enrolling people automatically in organ donation programs would increase the rate of donations, and moving healthy foods such as fruit to the front would encourage healthier eating.

Many of these results have been questioned as other researchers showed that the effects they claimed were much smaller or had no impact. In recent days, however, the field has suffered its biggest blow: allegations that a prominent behavior scientist faked results in several studies, including one that purported to demonstrate how to elicit honesty.

Francesca Gino, a Harvard Business School scholar, is credited with co-authoring dozens of peer-reviewed papers on topics such as how rituals, like silently Counting to 10 before choosing what to eat, can increase the likelihood that you will choose healthier food and how networking makes professionals feel dirty.

Maurice Schweitzer is a behavioral researcher at the Wharton School of University of Pennsylvania. He said that the accusations are having a large'reverberation in the academic community,' since Dr. Gino has "so many collaborators and so many articles. She is a real leading scholar in her field."

Dr. Schweitzer stated that he is now reviewing the eight papers that Dr. Gino and he worked on together to look for signs of fraud. He also said that other scholars are doing the same.

Scholars can work across disciplines. Behavioral research is a common theme in psychology, economics and management. Dr. Gino's resume states that she holds a Ph.D. from an Italian University in economics and managerial studies.

In an article published on The Chronicle of Higher Education's website on 16 June, questions were raised about Dr. Gino's work. The article was about a paper that she and four other colleagues had written in 2012. Max H. Bazerman of Harvard Business School, one of Dr. Gino’s co-authors, told The Chronicle the university informed him of a fabricated study that Dr. Gino had overseen for the paper.

In a 2012 article, it was reported that having people sign their answers to tax and insurance forms at the top rather than the bottom of the documents increased the accuracy. Other scholars have cited the paper hundreds of times, but recent research has cast serious doubts on its findings.

Harvard Business School also declined to respond to the request for comment. A man identified as Dr. Gino’s husband, who was reached by phone, said: 'It is obvious that it is something very sensitive and we cannot speak about now.

Dr. Bazerman didn't respond to an inquiry for comment on this article. However, he told The Chronicle of Higher Education he was not involved in any fabrication.

DataColada is a blog that's run by three behavioral scientist. On June 17, they posted an extensive discussion about the evidence that Dr. Gino's study for the 2012 article had been falsified. In the post, it was stated that in 2021 the bloggers had contacted Harvard Business School to express their concerns regarding Dr. Gino’s work. They provided the university with evidence of fraud both in the 2012 study and in three other papers that she worked on.

This blog, written by Uri Simsohn of ESADE in Barcelona, Leif Nelsen of University of California Berkeley and Joseph Simmons of University of Pennsylvania, focuses on integrity and reliability of research conducted in social sciences. In the post about Dr. Gino, it was noted that Harvard placed her on administrative leaves, which was also reflected on the web page of her business school, but no reason was provided. Internet Archive (which catalogs websites) shows that Dr. Gino wasn't on administrative leave until mid-May.

The 2012 paper was built on three different studies. The 2012 paper was based on three separate studies.

Participants filled out a later form to report how much they earned by solving the puzzles. Researchers were able to verify that the participants had completed the puzzles, despite their belief that cheating was undetectable.

The study found participants were more likely to accurately report their puzzle earnings if they affirmed their accuracy at the top of their form, rather than at the bottom.

In their blog post, Dr. Simonsohn and Dr. Nelson, after analyzing the data that Dr. Gino posted online with her co-authors, cited an Excel document that contained a digital record to show that some data points were tampered, and that this tampering was what led to the outcome.

The DataColada watchdogs have not found issues with Dr. Gino's 2012 paper and its co-authors for the first time. The same researchers discovered in a blog in August 2021 that another study in the same article appeared to be based on manufactured data.

The study was based on information provided by the insurance company to which customers had reported their mileage for cars covered under their policy. According to the study, customers who attested to the accuracy of their information at the beginning of the form were more honest than those who attested to it at the end.

The raw data analysis by Dr. Simonsohn and Dr. Nelson revealed that the majority of data points in the study were not created based on information provided by customers, but rather, they were generated by someone associated with the study. The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, which published the paper in 2012, retracted the article a month after the blog appeared.

Dan Ariely, a Duke University scholar and another co-author of the paper, obtained the data from the insurer in that case. In an email sent on Friday, Dr. Ariely said he was'stunned' and'surprised' to discover that some insurance data had been fabricated.

DataColada published blog posts since then laying out proof that Dr. Gino fabricated results in two other publications of which she was a collaborator. Bloggers have stated that they will publish a post outlining issues with an additional paper in which Dr. Gino collaborated.

Some scholars have said in interviews and on social media that the findings of Dr. Gino's behavioral research, which is more psychology-oriented, are often similar to those generated by research methods that are questionable.

Colin Camerer is a behavioral economist and behavioral economist at California Institute of Technology. He said that p-hacking, for example, involves testing a number of arbitrary combinations of data until the researcher reaches an inflated statistical relationship.

In 2015, an academic team reported that it had attempted to replicate 100 studies published by prestigious psychology journals. They were only successful in less than half of the cases. The behavioral studies were particularly difficult to duplicate.