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  • 1 University of Trier Department of Psychology and Institute for Psychology Information (ZPID – Leibniz-Institute) Trier Germany
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With reference to social constructivist approaches on citing behavior in the sciences, the hypothesis of acceleration of citing behavior after the millennium was empirically tested for a stratified random sample of exemplary psychology journal articles. The sample consists of 45 English and 45 German articles published in the years 1985 versus 1995 versus 2005 in high impact journals on developmental psychology, psychological diagnosis and assessment, and social psychology. Content analyses of the reference lists refer to the total number of references cited in the articles and the publication years of all references. In addition, the number of self-references, the number of pages, and the number of authors were determined for each article. Results show that there is no acceleration of citing behavior; rather, on the contrary, a significant trend is revealed for an increase in authors’ citing somewhat older references in the newer journal articles. Significant main effects point also at more citations of somewhat older references in the English (vs. German) journal articles as well as in articles on social psychology and psychological diagnosis (vs. on developmental psychology). Complementary analyses show that multiple authorships and the number of pages as well as the total number of references and the number of self-references increase significantly with time. However, percentage of self-references remains quite stable at about 10%. Some methodological and statistical traps in bibliometric testing the starting hypothesis are considered. Thus, the talk that has been circulating among psychology colleagues and students on the potential millennium effects on citing behavior in the sciences (which can, however, become a self-fulfilling prophecy) are not confirmed—at least for psychology journals.