Harvard’s Francesca Gino, Dishonesty Expert, Is Accused of Fraud

Over the past two decades, dozens of behavioral scientists have come to prominence pointing to the power of small interventions to improve well-being.

Scientists have found that automatically enrolling people in organ donation programs can lead to higher donation rates, and that moving healthy foods such as fruit closer to the front of the buffet line can lead to healthier eating. said to have found

Many of these findings have caused skepticism, as other scholars have shown their effectiveness. smaller than originally claimedor they had no impact at all. But in the last few days, the sector may have suffered the most severe hit yet. A prominent behavioral scientist is accused of fabricating at least one study purporting to show how to elicit honest behavior.

Harvard Business School scholar Francesca Gino is the co-author of dozens of papers in peer-reviewed journals on subjects such as how people prefer the ritual of counting silently to ten before deciding what to eat. . more likely to make healthier food choicesand how networking creates professionals feel dirty.

Maurice Schweitzer, a behavioral scientist at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, said Dr. Gino “has so many collaborators, so many papers, and is actually a good person, that this accusation has gone viral in academia.” It’s getting a big reaction,” he said. A leader in this field. ”

Schweitzer said he is currently examining eight papers he collaborated with for signs of fraud, as well as many other academics.

Behavioral research is common in psychology, business administration, and economics, allowing scholars to straddle these disciplines.according to her resume, Dr. Gino holds a Ph.D. He holds a BA in Economics and Business Administration from an Italian university.

Doubts about her work surfaced article In the Higher Education Chronicle of June 16, 2012 paper Written by Dr. Gino and four colleagues. One of Dr. Gino’s co-authors, Max H. Beiserman, also of Harvard Business School, was contacted by the university saying the research he supervised for his thesis appeared to contain fabricated results. There was, he told the Chronicle.

A 2012 paper reported that asking people filling out tax and insurance forms to prove the truthfulness of their answers at the top of the form instead of at the bottom greatly improved the accuracy of the information they provided. bottom.the paper was cited hundreds of times Although by other scholars, more recent studies have found that cast serious question About the survey results.

Dr. Gino did not respond to a request for comment, and the Harvard Business School also declined to comment. A man claiming to be Dr. Gino’s husband was contacted by phone and said, “This is obviously a very sensitive matter and I cannot speak to him right now.”

Dr. Bizerman did not respond to a request for comment for this article, but told the Higher Education Chronicle that he was not involved in any fabrications.

June 17th, blog It’s run by three behavioral scientists called DataColada, detailed discussion A large body of evidence has been found to show that the research results of Dr. Gino’s 2012 paper have been falsified. According to the post, the bloggers will contact Harvard Business School in the fall of 2021 to express their concerns about Dr. Gino’s research, accusing the 2012 paper and three other papers she collaborated of of misconduct. He said he provided the university with a report containing the evidence. .

This blog by Uli Simonson of ESADE Business School in Barcelona, ​​Lief Nelson of University of California, Berkeley, and Joseph Simmons of University of Pennsylvania focuses on the integrity and reliability of social science research. Her post about Dr. Gino pointed out that Harvard had placed her on administrative leave, and said that fact was reflected in her. business school web page, although the reason was not given. The Internet Archive, which catalogs web pages, show Dr. Gino didn’t take a vacation until mid-May.

The 2012 paper is based on three separate studies. One study overseen by Dr. Gino asked about 100 participants to complete a worksheet containing his 20 puzzles, and he promised them $1 for each puzzle they solved. rice field.

Study participants then filled out a reporting form about how much they earned from solving the puzzles. Participants were tricked into believing that cheating would not be detected when in fact they could verify how many puzzles the researchers had solved.

The study found that participants were much more likely to honestly report puzzle income if they proved the accuracy of their responses at the top of the form rather than at the bottom.

However, in their blog post, Dr. Simonson, Dr. Nelson and Dr. Simmons analyze data that Dr. Gino and co-authors had. posted onlinecited digital records contained within the Excel file to prove that some of the data points had been tampered with, and that the tampering helped drive the results.

Last week’s posting wasn’t the first time the DataColada watchdog found problems with a 2012 paper by Dr. Gino and co-authors.and blog post In August 2021, the same researchers found evidence that another study published in the same paper appeared to rely on fabricated data.

The study was based on data provided by insurance companies, where customers reported to the insurance company the mileage covered by the policy. The study claimed that customers who were asked to verify the truth of the information they provided at the top of the form were found to be far more honest than those who were asked to verify the truth at the bottom of the form. I’m here.

However, through analysis of the raw data, Dr. Simonson, Dr. Nelson, and Dr. Simmons concluded that many of the data points were not based on customer information, but were created by someone involved in the study. The journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which published a 2012 paper, withdrew it The month after the blog post was published.

In this case, one of the paper’s co-authors, Dan Ariely of Duke University, was an academic who obtained the data from the insurance company. Dr. Ariely, one of the world’s most renowned behavioral scientists, said in an email Friday that he was “stunned and surprised” to learn that some of the insurance data in his paper was fabricated. Please withdraw it. ”

DataColada then blog post Dr. Gino presented evidence that the results were fabricated in two other papers co-authored. The bloggers say they plan to publish another post highlighting the issues in a follow-up paper she collaborated on.

In interviews and comments on social media, some academics said the findings in Dr. Gino’s genre of near-psychology behavioral research closely resemble those obtained by dubious research methods. said.

According to Colin Camerer, a behavioral economist at the California Institute of Technology, one category of questionable practices is: p-hacking — For example, testing a series of arbitrary data combinations until researchers arrive at an exaggerated statistical correlation.

In 2015, a team of academics report They’ve tried to replicate the results of 100 studies published in leading psychological journals, but they say they’ve been less than half successful.Behavioral research proves especially difficult Duplicate.

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