# Statistical vs. Practical Significance

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Statistical vs. Practical Significance

Statistical Significance
Significant differences (i.e., reject the null hypothesis) means that differences in group means are not likely due to sampling error. The problem is that statistically significant differences can be found even with very small differences if the sample size is large enough.

Statistical Significance
In fact, differences between any sample means will be significant if the sample is large enough. For example – men and women have different average IQs

Practical Significance
Practical (or clinical) significance asks the larger question about differences “Are the differences between samples big enough to have real meaning.” Although men and women undoubtedly have different IQs, is that difference large enough to have some practical implication

Practical Significance
The fifth edition of the APA (2001) Publication Manual states: that it is almost always necessary to include some index of effect size or strength of relationship in your Results section.… The general principle to be followed … is to provide the reader not only with information about statistical significance but also with enough information to assess the magnitude of the observed effect or relationship. (pp. 25–26)

Practical Significance
Generally assessed with some measure of effect size Effect size can be grouped into two categories: Difference measures Variance accounted for measures

Difference effect sizes
Simple mean difference Suppose you design at control group experiment to evaluate the effects of CBT on depression. Experimental group post test score = 18 Control group post test score = 16 Difference = 18 – 16 = 2

Difference effect sizes
Problem with simple mean difference Dependent on the scale of measurement Ignores normal variation in scores For example, if the following example was based on a scale with a SD of 15 points, a 2 point difference would be small – treatment would only effect depression by .13 SDs. If the example was based on a scale with a SD of 1 point, a 2 point difference would be very large – treatment had a 2 SD effect

Difference effect sizes
We can overcome this problem by standardizing the mean differences One measure of this was done by Gene Glass D = (meantx – meancontrol)/ Sdcontrol Other SDs may be used such as a pooled (combined) SD from the Tx and Control groups

If variances are equal

If variances are unequal

Difference effect sizes: Interpreting
Cohen proposed a general method for interpreting these type of effect sizes d = .2 small effect d = .5 medium effect d = .8 large effect This is a guideline for interpretation. You need to interpret effect sizes in the context of the research

Variance accounted for measures
When comparing variables, variance accounted for measures tell us how well one variable predicts another or the magnitude of the relation. R2 is one such measure from correlational or regression analysis. Eta squared (η²) is often used in ANOVA as a measure of shared variance. Omega squared (ω2) is also used with ANOVA

Variance accounted for measures: Interpreting
Correlations can be judged as: R = .1 small R = .3 moderate R = .5 large For measures of variance based on a squared value – take the square root to get a correlation

Confidence Intervals Statistics are used to estimate the true population value. When providing statistics (estimates of population values) it is useful to provide a range of values that are likely to include the true population value. Calculated with the standard error of the statistic

Confidence Intervals for means
Confidence intervals = mean ± z(SEM) Z = 1.96 for a 95% confidence interval (you can estimate with Z=2 for a 95% confidence interval) If the mean of a sample = 100 and the SEM = 2 Then a 95% confidence interval would be: 100 ± 1.96(2) = 100 ± 3.92 Or 100 ± 2(2) = 100 ± 4 is close enough for govt. work

Confidence Intervals Use confidence intervals when you want to show where some true value is likely to be Reporting test results

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