According to a report from the New York Times, “reverberations” are going through the academic community as one of the leading scholars in behavioral psychology has been accused of fabricating findings in a major study on honesty.
The report claimed that the field of behavioral science, an area of research often seen with much “skepticism” from other scientists, “may have sustained its most serious blow yet” thanks to evidence showing that Francesca Gino of Harvard Business School may have fabricated results in “multiple studies.”
One of these was a study on honesty done in 2012, the results of which have “been cited hundreds of times by other scholars” since.
Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania behavioral scientist Maurice Schweitzer claimed that the accusations have sent “reverberations in the academic community” as Dr. Gino has “so many collaborators, so many articles,” and “is really a leading scholar in the field.”
The Times provided background on the prominent researcher, reporting, “The scholar, Francesca Gino of Harvard Business School, has been a co-author of dozens of papers in peer-reviewed journals on such topics as how rituals like silently counting to 10 before deciding what to eat can increase the likelihood of choosing healthier food, and how networking can make professionals feel dirty. “
As her resumé indicates, Gino has a Ph.D in economics and management from an Italian university.
The Times mentioned that serious questions about her body of work arose earlier this month when an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education claimed a source said that Gino’s 2012 paper had “fabricated results.”
“One of Dr. Gino’s co-authors — Max H. Bazerman, also of Harvard Business School — told The Chronicle that the university had informed him that a study overseen by Dr. Gino for the paper appeared to include fabricated results,” the Times wrote.
The paper’s original finding purported that “asking people who fill out tax or insurance documents to attest to the truth of their responses at the top of the document rather than at the bottom significantly increased the accuracy of the information they provided.”
The Times further detailed Gino’s 2012 paper, saying, “it was based on three separate studies. One study overseen by Dr. Gino involved a lab experiment in which about 100 participants were asked to complete a worksheet featuring 20 puzzles and were promised $1 for every puzzle they solved.”
It continued, stating, “The study’s participants later filled out a form reporting how much money they had earned from solving the puzzles. The participants were led to believe that cheating would be undetected, when in fact the researchers could verify how many puzzles they had solved.”
According to the results, “participants were much more likely to report their puzzle income honestly if they attested to the accuracy of their responses at the top of the form rather than the bottom.”
However, in a blog published this month, three behavioral scientists under the name “DataColada” cataloged evidence of problems with Gino’s study. Upon analysis of data that “Dr. Gino and her co-authors had posted online, the scientists demonstrated that “that some of the data points had been tampered with, and that the tampering helped drive the result.”
According to another blog posted by these same researchers in 2021, “another study published in the same paper appeared to rely on manufactured data,” The Times wrote.
The findings of this blog actually prompted the journal that published Gino’s 2012 paper to retract it one month later.
The Times noted that DataColada has “since published blog posts laying out evidence that results were fabricated in two other papers of which Dr. Gino was a co-author,” and added that they intend to publish one more blog on issues with another paper on which she collaborated.
According to the outlet, Dr. Gino did not respond to a request for comment, but a man who identified himself as her husband merely responded, saying, “It’s obviously something that is very sensitive that we can’t speak to now.”
Fox News Digital reached out to Dr. Gino for comment. this article will be updated with any response.