Null Hypothesis Significance Testing. On the Survival of a Flawed Method

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Null hypothesis significance testing (NHST) is the researcher’s workhorse for making inductive inferences. This method has often been challenged, has occasionally been defended, and has persistently been used through most of the history of scientific psychology. This article reviews both the criticisms of NHST and the arguments brought to its defense. The review shows that the criticisms address the logical validity of inferences arising from NHST, whereas the defenses stress the pragmatic value of these inferences. The author suggests that both critics and apologists implicitly rely on Bayesian assumptions. When these assumptions are made explicit, the primary challenge for NHST–and any system of induction–can be confronted. The challenge is to find a solution to the question of replicability.

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Type of resources: Primary Source, Reading

Education level(s): College / Upper Division (Undergraduates)

Primary user(s): Student

Subject area(s): Math & Statistics, Social Science

Language(s): English