Dirk Smeesters had spent several years of his career as a social psychologist at Erasmus University in Rotterdam studying how consumers behaved in different situations. Did colour have an effect on what they bought? How did death-related stories in the media affect how people picked products? And was it better to use supermodels in cosmetics adverts than average-looking women?
The questions are certainly intriguing, but unfortunately for anyone wanting truthful answers, some of Smeesters' work turned out to be fraudulent. The psychologist, who admitted "massaging" the data in some of his papers, resigned from his position in June after being investigated by his university, which had been tipped off by Uri Simonsohn from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Simonsohn carried out an independent analysis of the data and was suspicious of how perfect many of Smeesters' results seemed when, statistically speaking, there should have been more variation in his measurements.
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