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Can social scientists predict social change?

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Study on the accuracy of predictions by social scientists published in nature human behaviour

Prof. Dr. Graf-Vlachy publishes together with more than 100 co-authors from different institutions worldwide in nature human behavior (2021 Impact Factor: 24.25). In the study, the authors investigate the extent to which social scientists are able to correctly anticipate social change. In two forecasting tournaments, scientists attempted to predict social change from historical trends. The results showed that scientists’ predictions were no better than very simple statistical models or the aggregate predictions of members of the general public. However, scientists’ predictions were more accurate if they had specific expertise in the topic area, worked in interdisciplinary teams, used simpler predictive models, or based their predictions on historical data.