Friday, December 2, 2016

Psychology saves lives

The field of psychology has fallen on hard times, specifically with its replication crisis (only 1/3 of its experimental results can be replicated), but insights from the field have contributed to our understanding of decision making.  And in New Zealand, framing an issue have overcome popular resistance to paying for kidneys:
New Zealand MP Chris Bishop framed the bill as compensating donors for lost wages rather than paying them. A decrease in the disincentive to donate–an increase in the incentive to donate. To an economist, potato, potato. But for people whose kidneys fail in New Zealand, the right framing may have been the difference between life and death.


  1. Ed Yong of The Atlantic once described the “replication crisis,” as a “civil war,” among the psychology world. One side agreeing that psychology is experiencing this crisis, while the other half not believing it truly exists.

    A few members who dispute this claim to include Harvard University’s Daniel Gilbert challenged the methods and analysis of the reproducibility project and had a more optimistic take on it. But it was Katie Palmer at Wired who had the best take on the debate. She said, “Emotions are running high. Two groups of very smart people are looking at the exact same data and coming to wildly different conclusions. Science hates that. This is how beleaguered Gilbert feels: When I asked if he thought his defensiveness might have colored his interpretation of this data, he hung up on me.”

    Yong responded with two viewpoints. The first was that the reproducibility project is far from the only line of evidence for psychology’s programs. There’s a myriad of failures. There’s bias in producing only positive studies, as well as questionable research practices that are “widespread and condoned. “ Second, Yong refers to this psychological divide as an “academic spat,” regarding degrees of freedom and publication bias.

    In my opinion, there is bias in everything. I think we need to take these results as they are. It’s always important to question everything – although it can be quite exhausting. Psychology can give us perspective. Although there may be some error subtleties, but for the most part, I believe psychology plays an important part in providing valuable information about how we think, act, and feel.

    1. Replication is a crisis in various fields science research ,however the crisis seems to be worse in e .psychology. According to an article written by By Edward Diener and Robert Biswas-Diener ,in modern times, the science of psychology is facing a crisis. It turns out that many studies in psychology—including many highly cited studies—do not replicate. In an era where news is instantaneous, the failure to replicate research raises important questions about the scientific process in general and psychology specifically. People have the right to know if they can trust research evidence. For our part, psychologists also have a vested interest in ensuring that our methods and findings are as trustworthy as possible.But psychologists can express legitimate pride in the methodological sophistication that has given them avenues to understand the replication crisis, in the openness that has allowed prominent work to be criticized, and in the collaborative culture that has facilitated replication projects.(

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  3. Psychology’s discourse on validity, reliability, and latent constructs is much more sophisticated than the usual treatment of measurement. One reason for this is that psychology is an inherently difficult field, studying constructs such as personality, intelligence, and motivation, which are undeniably important but which by their nature are “latent constructs” that cannot be measured directly. Psychologist Paul Meehl raised serious questions about research methods as early as the 1960s, at a time when other fields were just getting naïve happy talk about how all problems would be solved with randomized experiments.
    Psychology’s bad press is in part a consequence of its open culture, which manifests in various ways and the Overconfidence we derived from research designs.Replication crisis in psychology is about lab experiments and surveys. Either way, there is a clean identification of comparisons, hence there’s an assumption that simple textbook methods can’t go wrong. There are similar problems in economics (for example, a paper on air pollution in China that was based on a naïve trust in regression discontinuity analysis, not recognizing that, when you come down to it, what they had was an observational study), but lab experiments and surveys in psychology are typically so clean that researchers sometimes can’t seem to imagine that there could be any problems with their methods. And then researchers let their overconfidence about “statistical significance” leak into their analyses of observational data such as in the notorious “himmicanes and hurricanes” paper.

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  5. Psychologically, the shift from calling kidney donations “payments” to “compensating for lost wages” was pretty shrewd. For all intents and purposes, the opportunity cost for someone considering donating a kidney becomes a wash in New Zealand, at least when considering just losses from not working. There are obviously other costs to consider that do become much harder to estimate, such as potential long term care cost increases for the donor or the limiting effect on specific activities like contact sports.

    Tabarrok (2016) refers to a study in the American Journal of Transplantation, mentioning a proposed $45,000 payment to donors in the United States. In 2015, the median income in the U.S. was $55,775 (Map: Median Household Income in the United States: 2015, n.d.). The proposed donor payment would represent almost 81% of this total. For some, it would be more than they earn in a year. Strictly from a dollar perspective, the choice to donate may be a no-brainer. Factor in a four to six week recovery time (What to Expect as a Living Donor, n.d.) and the kidney-donor-business might be a booming industry. I suppose that the same pay-for-organ process could be applied to liver transplants as well.

    Long term though, I wonder if people could move beyond the monumental choice of putting themselves under the knife for a complete stranger. Maybe the economics of it all make it easier.


    Froeb, L. M., McCann, B. T., Shor, M., & Ward, M. R. (2016). Managerial Economics: A Problem Solving Approach. Boston, Massachusetts: Cengage Learning.

    Map: Median Household Income in the United States: 2015. (n.d.). Retrieved February 12, 2017, from United States Census Bureau:

    Tabarrok, A. (2016, December 1). New Zealand to Compensate Organ Donors. Retrieved from Marginal Revolution:

    What to Expect as a Living Donor. (n.d.). Retrieved February 12, 2017, from John Hopkins Medicine: