External Validity and the Replication Crisis: Reflections on the Replication Corner

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    John Lynch

    Endowed Chair
    Director of Center for Research on Consumer Financial Decision Making
    Associate Dean & Ted Anderson Professor
    University of Colorado
    Leeds School of Business, 419 UCB
    Boulder, CO 80309-0419
    Phone: 303-492-8413
    Email John
    John’s Website

    John G. Lynch, Jr. is the Ted Andersen Professor of Free Enterprise at the Leeds School of Business, University of Colorado Boulder, and the Director of the Center for Research on Consumer Financial Decision Making. He holds a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and previously held appointments at University of Florida and Duke University. Lynch studies the cognitive psychology of consumer decision-making, with a recent focus on consumer financial decision-making. Lynch is a Fellow of the American Marketing Association, the Association for Consumer Research, the American Psychological Association/Society for Consumer Psychology. He has been a recipient of the Paul D. Converse Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Science of Marketing and the Society for Consumer Psychology’s Distinguished Scientific Achievement Award. Five of his papers have been honored as outstanding article of the year in top marketing journals. He is one of the 10 most published authors in the history of Journal of Consumer Research. In 2015 publications tracked by the Web of Science, Lynch was one of the 25 most cited marketing scholars in the world. He is a member of the editorial boards of Journal of Consumer Research and the Journal of Marketing, and a member of the Journal of Marketing Research Advisory Board. He has served as president of the Policy Board of the Journal of Consumer Research, president of the Association for Consumer Research, associate editor for the Journal of Consumer Research, and associate editor and co-editor for the Journal of Consumer Psychology. He co-chairs the Boulder Summer Conference on Consumer Financial Decision Making.

    In addition to studying consumer decision-making, about a quarter of Lynch’s work concerns validity issues in research methodology. His 2010 Journal of Consumer Research paper on mediation analysis, and 2013 Journal of Marketing Research paper on simple effects in moderated regression are the most cited papers in any marketing journal in the year of their publication.

    Spiller, Stephen A., Gavan J. Fitzsimons, John G. Lynch, Jr., Gary H. McClelland (2013), “Spotlights, Floodlights, and the Magic Number Zero: Simple Effects Tests in Moderated Regression,” Journal of Marketing Research, 50 (April), 277-288. Most cited paper published in any marketing journal 2013 to present.

    Zhao, Xinshu, John G. Lynch, Jr., and Qimei Chen (2010), “Reconsidering Baron and Kenny: Myths and Truths about Mediation Analysis,” Journal of Consumer Research, 37 (August), 197-206. Most cited paper published in any marketing journal 2006 to present. Recipient of 2013 JCR Award for Best Article in 2010 volume of JCR.

We contrast the philosophy guiding the Replication Corner at IJRM with replication efforts in psychology. Psychology has promoted “exact” or “direct” replications, reflecting an interest in statistical conclusion validity of the original findings. Implicitly, this philosophy treats non-replication as evidence that the original finding is not “real” — a conclusion that we believe is unwarranted. In contrast, we have encouraged “conceptual replications” (replicating at the construct level but with different operationalization) and “replications with extensions”, reflecting our interest in providing evidence on the external validity and generalizability of published findings. In particular, our belief is that this replication philosophy allows for both replication and the creation of new knowledge. We express our views about why we believe our approach is more constructive, and describe lessons learned in the three years we have been involved in editing the IJRM Replication Corner. Of our thirty published conceptual replications, most found results replicating the original findings, sometimes identifying moderators.

Digital Reader: Resources Recommended by the Speaker:

  • Cronbach, L. J. (1975). Beyond the two disciplines of scientific psychology. American Psychologist, 30, 116–127.
  • Lynch, John G., Jr., Eric T. Bradlow, Joel C. Huber, and Donald R. Lehmann (2015), “Reflections on the Replication Corner: In Praise of Conceptual Replications,” International Journal of Research in Marketing, 32 (4), 333-342.