Casual References to Unpublished Research

I’m reading The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor. He refers early in the book to research he conducted himself showing that a short class in the seven principles of happiness can increase happiness levels for at least weeks. That’s not only big on its own, but the research was done at a CPA firm, so it’s especially relevant to me.

“I need to read more about that!” said I as I checked the notes in the back of the book. No citations. “Well, maybe it just wasn’t published yet when he wrote this book. OK, Google…” But a web search only netted me a press release from KPMG.

Of course, that means there is no way for the reader to evaluate the claim. We don’t know how the population was selected or what the instrument was or how big the effect was.

And that’s too bad. The finding is really interesting. If the research is good, he should publish it. If it’s not, he shouldn’t talk about it, or at least he should note its limitations.

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One thought on “Casual References to Unpublished Research

  1. Pingback: The Happiness Advantage, Causality, and Correlation | Engaged

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