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Altenmüller, Marlene Sophie ORCID: 0000-0002-1714-3601; Nuding, Stephan ORCID: 0000-0002-8997-2230; Gollwitzer, Mario ORCID: 0000-0003-4310-4793 (2021): No harm in being self-corrective: Self-criticism and reform intentions increase researchers' epistemic trustworthiness and credibility in the eyes of the public. In: Public Understanding of Science, Vol. 30, No. 8: pp. 962-976
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Science should be self-correcting. However, researchers often hesitate to admit errors and to adopt reforms in their own work. In two studies (overall N = 702), we test whether scientific self-criticism and reform intentions expressed by researchers damage or rather improve their reputation in the eyes of the public (i.e. perceivers). Across both studies, such self-correction (compared to no self-correction) increases perceivers' epistemic trustworthiness ascriptions, credibility perceptions, and willingness to further engage with science. Study 2 revealed that these effects were largely driven by the no self-criticism condition. In addition, researchers' commitment to implementing reforms had positive effects and rejecting reforms had negative effects on perceptions, irrespective of the extent of these reforms. These findings suggest that researchers' fear that self-criticism and expressing reform intentions may damage their reputation may be unfounded.