Commentary to Part III

Susan T. Fiske

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Issues of authorship and credit topped the list in our nonsystematic sample of invitees’ choices to write about ethical issues in psychological science. More invitees chose this topic than any other-twice as often as the next most popular dilemma. In retrospect, this is not surprising. The commodities of our psychological science are ideas and evidence, whose ownership is harder to establish than, say, branded cattle. Everyday misunderstandings can happen between any two people, and Michael Ross’s research indicates that collaborators regularly overestimate their own contribution to a joint project. But misunderstandings are even more likely given power differentials or working across fields’ distinct norms. And misunderstandings have more consequence earlier in one’s career than later, as these essays indicate. Judging from this nonsystematic sample, and from principles of psychology, people behave badly when they are subject to fewer consequences: when they are anonymous (reviewers), powerful (advisor or boss), high-status (senior or prestigious), or overloaded (all of us). Failure to give credit,idea theft, and even pressure to co-publish each illustrate these dynamics here. But sometimes subordinates also misbehave, such as trying to publish a paper using their advisor’s name, without obtaining consent, or failing to cite precedents for their ideas. The current authors all agree that authorship without explicit knowledge, as well as gift authorship, is bad practice for anyone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEthical Challenges in the Behavioral and Brain Sciences
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages3
ISBN (Electronic)9781139626491
ISBN (Print)9781107039735
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Psychology


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