Now joking aside, of course I'd have to read the actual study but what jumps out at me as blatantly missing is whether the kids used the pacifiers more in the first place because they were less emotionally healthy. Like, they were born for whatever reason (brain, hormones, genes, environment) with more feelings of anxiety or fear, so that's why they sucked the pacifiers more. Then later on in life they measure worse on empathy and the ability to read other's emotions because they've been dealing with their own feelings of anxiety or whatever all of their lives and weren't able to develop as well as other kids who were born without those issues.
From the news article description it certainly sounds like a correlational study that couldn't at all prove the pacifier is what caused the problem.
uh yeah. i'd not be surprised at all.
i hate studies like this. a) it's self reported pacifier use by the PARENTS of college aged young adults. no freaking way parents recall pacifier use accurately 18 years later. it's just not happening. b) there's no way to know what other factors are at play. there's a pretty big bias against toddlers using pacis as is (tzipi uses one, and her dad and i feel self-conscious about it, and have gotten comments from others about it... we've made a real effort to have her only use it at home for sleepy times because of social pressure) and i wouldn't be surprised at all if that had an effect on the study itself.
anyway, i kind of turned off my brain when i read the quotes at the end from miss judgeypants lady researcher.