Marginally Significant Effects as Evidence for Hypotheses

Changing Attitudes Over Four Decades

Laura Pritschet, Derek Powell, Zachary Horne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

29 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Some effects are statistically significant. Other effects do not reach the threshold of statistical significance and are sometimes described as “marginally significant” or as “approaching significance.” Although the concept of marginal significance is widely deployed in academic psychology, there has been very little systematic examination of psychologists’ attitudes toward these effects. Here, we report an observational study in which we investigated psychologists’ attitudes concerning marginal significance by examining their language in over 1,500 articles published in top-tier cognitive, developmental, and social psychology journals. We observed a large change over the course of four decades in psychologists’ tendency to describe a p value as marginally significant, and overall rates of use appear to differ across subfields. We discuss possible explanations for these findings, as well as their implications for psychological research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1036-1042
Number of pages7
JournalPsychological Science
Volume27
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Psychology
Social Psychology
Observational Studies
Language
Research

Keywords

  • marginal significance
  • methodology
  • null-hypothesis significance testing
  • open data

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

Cite this

Marginally Significant Effects as Evidence for Hypotheses : Changing Attitudes Over Four Decades. / Pritschet, Laura; Powell, Derek; Horne, Zachary.

In: Psychological Science, Vol. 27, No. 7, 01.07.2016, p. 1036-1042.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{8620d2fe7f0343cfbbcff5ef72cb4c9f,
title = "Marginally Significant Effects as Evidence for Hypotheses: Changing Attitudes Over Four Decades",
abstract = "Some effects are statistically significant. Other effects do not reach the threshold of statistical significance and are sometimes described as “marginally significant” or as “approaching significance.” Although the concept of marginal significance is widely deployed in academic psychology, there has been very little systematic examination of psychologists’ attitudes toward these effects. Here, we report an observational study in which we investigated psychologists’ attitudes concerning marginal significance by examining their language in over 1,500 articles published in top-tier cognitive, developmental, and social psychology journals. We observed a large change over the course of four decades in psychologists’ tendency to describe a p value as marginally significant, and overall rates of use appear to differ across subfields. We discuss possible explanations for these findings, as well as their implications for psychological research.",
keywords = "marginal significance, methodology, null-hypothesis significance testing, open data",
author = "Laura Pritschet and Derek Powell and Zachary Horne",
year = "2016",
month = "7",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1177/0956797616645672",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "27",
pages = "1036--1042",
journal = "Psychological Science",
issn = "0956-7976",
publisher = "SAGE Publications Inc.",
number = "7",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Marginally Significant Effects as Evidence for Hypotheses

T2 - Changing Attitudes Over Four Decades

AU - Pritschet, Laura

AU - Powell, Derek

AU - Horne, Zachary

PY - 2016/7/1

Y1 - 2016/7/1

N2 - Some effects are statistically significant. Other effects do not reach the threshold of statistical significance and are sometimes described as “marginally significant” or as “approaching significance.” Although the concept of marginal significance is widely deployed in academic psychology, there has been very little systematic examination of psychologists’ attitudes toward these effects. Here, we report an observational study in which we investigated psychologists’ attitudes concerning marginal significance by examining their language in over 1,500 articles published in top-tier cognitive, developmental, and social psychology journals. We observed a large change over the course of four decades in psychologists’ tendency to describe a p value as marginally significant, and overall rates of use appear to differ across subfields. We discuss possible explanations for these findings, as well as their implications for psychological research.

AB - Some effects are statistically significant. Other effects do not reach the threshold of statistical significance and are sometimes described as “marginally significant” or as “approaching significance.” Although the concept of marginal significance is widely deployed in academic psychology, there has been very little systematic examination of psychologists’ attitudes toward these effects. Here, we report an observational study in which we investigated psychologists’ attitudes concerning marginal significance by examining their language in over 1,500 articles published in top-tier cognitive, developmental, and social psychology journals. We observed a large change over the course of four decades in psychologists’ tendency to describe a p value as marginally significant, and overall rates of use appear to differ across subfields. We discuss possible explanations for these findings, as well as their implications for psychological research.

KW - marginal significance

KW - methodology

KW - null-hypothesis significance testing

KW - open data

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84978531850&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=84978531850&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1177/0956797616645672

DO - 10.1177/0956797616645672

M3 - Article

VL - 27

SP - 1036

EP - 1042

JO - Psychological Science

JF - Psychological Science

SN - 0956-7976

IS - 7

ER -