Emptying my implicit social cognition file-drawer from graduate school (2005-2008)

At the PsychMethods Facebook discussion group, Uli Schimmack et al. have recently been discussing the lack of merit of the implicit self-esteem (ISE) construct.  I chimed in with a brief note concurring with Uli stating that during my first three years of graduate school, I amassed over 20 “failed studies” involving implicit self-esteem (building upon Dijksterhuis’, 2004 seminal ISE paper).1 This led to a tremendous waste of time and research resources substantially derailing my main line of research before I abandoned it altogether a few years later.

Uli asked me if I’d ever published or at least archived such failed studies? I replied in the negative because this wasn’t done in pre-2010 days. I did mention, however, that I would be publicly releasing more details of these failed studies in a book I’m currently writing about social psychology’s unraveling in the context of the broken academic system.

As a sneak preview, I’ve decided to empty my entire file-drawer for all implicit social cognition studies2 I executed during my first three years of graduate school (2005-2008), which includes the 20+ failed studies on implicit self-esteem specifically:

I became so frustrated with my “lack of success” that I created this table in the Spring of 2008 to more carefully document my failures. I also printed out a hard copy of the table and would show it to professors and visiting external speakers. In an exasperated tone, I would ask them: What the hell am I doing wrong?


1. I wouldn’t go as far as Uli in declaring that “implicit self-esteem is DEAD; R.I.P Implicit Self-Esteem (2000-2015).” I would, however, strongly caution any researcher, particularly early-career researchers, against investing research resources on this topic.

2. Sample sizes for the studies ranged between N=80 to N=140, following the traditional heuristic of N=~20 per cell for between-subjects designs (sometimes re-sampling an additional N=20 to N=40 in the case of statistically marginal effects).



    1. Because as a true scientist we should always keep a tiny amount of openness to an idea, even in the face of gargantuan amounts of negative evidence, because it’s possible we don’t currently have the right instruments, paradigms, or approaches to investigating the phenomenon. I think this is unlikely, but I don’t think the likelihood is zero.

      Here’s a great Carl Sagan quote that captures this attitude:

      “At the heart of science is an essential balance between two seemingly contradictory attitudes–an openness to new ideas, no matter how bizarre or counterintuitive they may be, and the most ruthless skeptical scrutiny of all ideas, old and new. This is how deep truths are winnowed from deep nonsense.”― Carl Sagan,

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