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Does Exonerating an Accused Researcher Restore the Researcher's Credibility?


ABSTRACT: Scientific misconduct appears to be on the rise. However, an accused researcher may later be exonerated. The present research examines to what extent participants adhere to their attitude toward a researcher who allegedly committed academic misconduct after learning that the researcher is innocent. In two studies, participants in an exoneration and an uncorrected accusation condition learned that the ethics committee of a researcher's university demanded the retraction of one of the researcher's articles, whereas participants in a control condition did not receive this information. As intended, this manipulation led to a more favorable attitude toward the researcher in the control compared to the exoneration and the uncorrected accusation conditions (pre-exoneration attitude). Then, participants in the exoneration condition learned that the researcher was exonerated and that the article was not retracted. Participants in the uncorrected accusation and the control condition were not informed about the exoneration. Results revealed that the exoneration effectively worked, in that participants in the exoneration condition had a more favorable attitude (post-exoneration attitude) toward the researcher than did participants in the uncorrected accusation condition. Moreover, the post-exoneration attitude toward the researcher was similar in the exoneration and the control conditions. Finally, in the exoneration condition only, participants' post-exoneration attitude was more favorable than their pre-exoneration attitude. These findings suggest that an exoneration of an accused researcher restores the researcher's credibility.

SUBMITTER: Greitemeyer T 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC4430488 | BioStudies | 2015-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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