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Growth From Uncertainty: Understanding the Replication ‘Crisis’ in Infant Cognition

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 November 2023

Jane Suilin Lavelle*
School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK


Psychology is a discipline that has a high number of failed replications, which has been characterized as a “crisis” on the assumption that failed replications are indicative of untrustworthy research. This article uses Chang’s concept of epistemic iteration to show how a research program can advance epistemic goals despite many failed replications. It illustrates this by analyzing an ongoing large-scale replication attempt of Southgate et al.’s work exploring infants’ understanding of false beliefs. It concludes that epistemic iteration offers a way of understanding the value of replications—both failed and successful—that contradicts the narrative centered around distrust.

© The Author(s), 2023. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Philosophy of Science Association

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