CfP: Replication of Crises: Psychology in Times of Epistemic Upheaval (University of Luebeck, September 19-20, 2019; Deadline: March 17, 2019)

Submitted by Uljana Feest (University of Hannover).


Call for Paper:

Replication of Crises: Psychology in Times of Epistemic Upheaval

Psychology might be broken, some skeptics warn (Woolston, 2015). It might even be trapped in a horrible space somewhere between the third and fourth circle of hell (Neuroskeptic, 2012). To say the least, psychology is enduring an age of epistemic upheaval. The name of this hell is “replication crisis”. Having already affected a range of disciplines in the medical and the life sciences, the replication crisis reached psychology in 2011, with a paper on false positive psychology (Simmons, Nelson, & Simonsohn, 2011). Since this time, the crisis has grown (Dominus, 2017). In a replication of 100 experimental and correlational studies published in psychology journals, only thirty-six percent of the results proved replicable (Open Science Collaboration, 2015). Many other major psychological findings could not be replicated, especially in social psychology: from the broadly published effects of ‘power posing’ to some well-known finding on behavioral priming and the famous Marshmallow test.
The reactions within psychology have been vehement but not surprising. Many scientists are calling for more methodological rigor, for stricter statistical approaches that prevent p-hacking, or for the use of a replication-index.

In this workshop, we do not aim to identify new methodological tools to ‘repair’ psychology. Instead, we will place the replication crisis in its scientific, historical and social context. Therefore, we invite psychologists and historians as well as philosophers and sociologists of science to reflect on the epistemic dynamics within the discipline. The workshop will also discuss the effects of this crisis on public debates, on scientific discourses, and on practices of psychological research.

To this end, we welcome theoretical papers as well as historical analyses or specific case studies of (non-)replicable psychological experiments.

Here is an open list of questions we would like to discuss at the workshop:

  • What is the genealogy of the current crisis in the long history of similar problems in psychology?
  • When and why did the idea of replication emerge as an epistemic ideal, under which circumstances did its relevance fluctuate and how did it gain importance in psychology?
  • How do concerns about replication and replicability reflect broader scientific assumptions and ideals of robustness and stability?
  • How does the issue of replication in psychology relate to the situation in other disciplines like medicine, the life sciences, environmental studies, or climate science?
  • How do we as critical scholars deal with the “replication crisis” and with what intentions do we evaluate the focus on this issue in the debate on psychology?
  • Is the ideal of replicability “overrated” (Feest, 2019), because it presupposes an overly formal understanding of scientific research in psychology?
  • Can the replication of data alternatively be understood by theoretical approaches from ‘new materialism’ as a phenomenon of posthumanist performativity (Barad, 2003)?
  • What are the political and cultural contexts of the replication crisis and how does it relate to the debate on ‘alternative facts’ or the rhetoric of a ‘war on science’?
  • How do gender issues play out in the notion of a replication crisis and ideas of “soft” versus “hard” science?
  • Which larger cultural concepts, metaphors, and ideas resonate with this “crisis” discourse?
  • What are instructive case studies of (non-)replication in psychology?

The Workshop will take place on September 19th and 20th in Lübeck. Please send abstracts (300-500 words) to by March 17th 2019.

Confirmed Speakers:

  • Eva Barlösius, Uljana Feest & Torsten Wilholt, Leibniz Universität Hannover
  • Ivan Flis, Utrecht University
  • Mario Gollwitzer, LMU München
  • Jill Morawski, Wesleyan University
  • Annette Mülberger, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
  • Marcus Munafo, University of Bristol
  • Nicole Nelson, University of Wisconsin–Madison
  • Frieder Paulus, Universität zu Lübeck
  • Simine Vazire, University of California


  • Barad, K. (2003). Posthumanist performativity. Toward an understanding of how matter comes to matter. Signs, 28(3), 801-831.
  • Dominus, S. (2017, Oct. 18th 2017). When the Revolution Came for Amy Cuddy. New York Times Magazine.
  • Feest, U. (2019). Why Replication is Overrated. Philosophy of Science (in press).
  • Mülberger, A. (2018). When and why did psychologists start to worry about replication? Paper presented at the European Society for the History of the Human Sciences, Groningen, Netherlands.
  • Neuroskeptic. (2012). The Nine Circles of Scientific Hell. Perspectives of Psychological Sciences, 7(6). doi:10.1177/1745691612459519
  • Open Science Collaboration. (2015). Estimating the reproducibility of psychological science. Science, 349(6251), 943. doi:10.1126/science.aac4716
  • Simmons, J. P., Nelson, L. D., & Simonsohn, U. (2011). False-Positive Psychology: Undisclosed Flexibility in Data Collection and Analysis Allows Presenting Anything as Significant. Psychological Science, 22(11), 1359-1366.
  • Stam, H. J. (2018). Once more with feeling: The eternal recurrence of the reproducibility crisis in psychology. Paper presented at the European Society for the History of the Human Sciences, Groningen, Netherlands.
  • Sturm, T., & Mülberger, A. (2012). Crisis discussions in psychology—New historical and philosophical perspectives. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, 43, 425-433.
  • Woolston, C. (2015). Online debate erupts to ask: is science broken? Nature, 519(7544). doi:10.1038/519393f