Open Science Perspectives on Machine Learning for the Identification of Careless Responding: A New Hope or Phantom Menace?

Andreas Alfons, Max Welz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Powerful methods for identifying careless respondents in survey data are not just important to ensure the validity of subsequent data analyses, they are also instrumental for studying the psychological processes that drive humans to respond carelessly. Conversely, a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of careless responding enables the development of improved methods for the identification of careless respondents. While machine learning has gained substantial attention and popularity in many scientific fields, it is largely unexplored for the detection of careless responding. On the one hand, machine learning algorithms can be highly powerful tools due to their flexibility. On the other hand, science based on machine learning has been criticized in the literature for a lack of reproducibility. We assess the potential and the pitfalls of machine learning approaches for identifying careless respondents from an open science perspective. In particular, we discuss possible sources of reproducibility issues when applying machine learning in the context of careless responding, and we give practical guidelines on how to avoid them. Furthermore, we illustrate the high potential of an unsupervised machine learning method for the identification of careless respondents in a proof-of-concept simulation experiment. Finally, we stress the necessity of building an open data repository with labeled benchmark data sets, which would enable the evaluation of methods in a more realistic setting and make it possible to train supervised learning methods. Without such a data repository, the true potential of machine learning for the identification of careless responding may fail to be unlocked.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12941
JournalSocial and Personality Psychology Compass
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Authors. Social and Personality Psychology Compass published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


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