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Q J Exp Psychol (Hove). 2012;65(11):2271-9. doi: 10.1080/17470218.2012.711335. Epub 2012 Aug 2.

A peculiar prevalence of p values just below .05.

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Department of Psychology, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC 27109, USA.

Erratum in

  • Q J Exp Psychol (Hove). 2012;65(11):2280.


In null hypothesis significance testing (NHST), p values are judged relative to an arbitrary threshold for significance (.05). The present work examined whether that standard influences the distribution of p values reported in the psychology literature. We examined a large subset of papers from three highly regarded journals. Distributions of p were found to be similar across the different journals. Moreover, p values were much more common immediately below .05 than would be expected based on the number of p values occurring in other ranges. This prevalence of p values just below the arbitrary criterion for significance was observed in all three journals. We discuss potential sources of this pattern, including publication bias and researcher degrees of freedom.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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