Falsifiability versus Rationalization

Here are two hypothetical conversations about psychological research. I’ll leave it to others to decide whether these conversation could ever take place.

Theories are just directional assertions about effects

Person A: And, just as I predicted, I found in my early studies that the correlation between X and Y is 0.4.
Person B: What do you make of the fact that subsequent studies have found that the correlation is closer to 0.001?
Person A: Oh, I was right all along: those studies continue to support my theoretical assertion that the empirical effect goes in the direction that my theory predicted. Exact numbers are meaningless in the social sciences, since we only conduct proof-of-concept studies and there are so many intervening variables we can’t measure.

Theories are just assertions about the existence of effects

Person A: And, just as I predicted, I found in my early studies that the correlation between X and Y is 0.4.
Person B: What do you make of the fact that a conceptual replication, which employed words rather than pictures, found that the correlation between X and Y was -0.05?
Person A: Oh, I was right all along: X does have an effect on Y, even though the effect can switch directions under some circumstances. What matters is that X affects Y at all, which is deeply counter-intuitive.