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Psychon Bull Rev. 2006 Dec;13(6):1033-7.

Probability as certainty: dichotomous thinking and the misuse of p values.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Faculty of Behavioral and Social Sciences, University of Groningen, Grote Kruistraat 2/1, Groningen 9712 TS, The Netherlands.


Significance testing is widely used and often criticized. The Task Force on Statistical Inference of the American Psychological Association (TFSI, APA; Wilkinson & TFSI, 1999) addressed the use of significance testing and made recommendations that were incorporated in the fifth edition of the APA Publication Manual (APA, 2001). They emphasized the interpretation of significance testing and the importance of reporting confidence intervals and effect sizes. We examined whether 286 Psychonomic Bulletin & Review articles submitted before and after the publication of the TFSI recommendations by APA complied with these recommendations. Interpretation errors when using significance testing were still made frequently, and the new prescriptions were not yet followed on a large scale. Changing the practice of reporting statistics seems doomed to be a slow process.

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