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THE MEANING AND USE OF STATISTICAL SIGNIFICANCE

Regardless of whether you use parametric or nonparametric procedures, the goal of inferential statis-tics (as opposed to descriptive statistics) is to reach a conclusion regarding the probability of an outcome being attributed to chance rather than to some hypothesized cause. Statistical significance is a central theme in this rationale. The excerpt from Thompson that follows discusses some of the most important aspects of that concept and its application. Too few researchers understand what statistical significance testing does and doesn't do, and consequently their results are misinterpreted. Even more commonly, researchers understand elements of statistical significance testing, but the concept is not integrated into their research. For example, the influence of sample size on statistical significance may be acknowledged by a researcher, but this insight is not conveyed when interpreting results in a study with several thousand subjects. This article will help you better understand the concept of significance testing. The ...

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