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Behav Res Methods Instrum Comput. 2004 May;36(2):312-24.

Reform of statistical inference in psychology: the case of memory & cognition.

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  • 1Statistical Consulting Centre, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.


Geoffrey Loftus, Editor of Memory & Cognition from 1994 to 1997, strongly encouraged presentation of figures with error bars and avoidance of null hypothesis significance testing (NHST). The authors examined 696 Memory & Cognition articles published before, during, and after the Loftus editorship. Use of figures with bars increased to 47% under Loftus's editorship and then declined. Bars were rarely used for interpretation, and NHST remained almost universal. Analysis of 309 articles in other psychology journals confirmed that Loftus's influence was most evident in the articles he accepted for publication, but was otherwise limited. An e-mail survey of authors of papers accepted by Loftus revealed some support for his policy, but allegiance to traditional practices as well. Reform of psychologists' statistical practices would require more than editorial encouragement.

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