Theory-testing in psychology and physics: A methodological paradox

Philosophy of Science 34 (2):103-115 (1967)
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Because physical theories typically predict numerical values, an improvement in experimental precision reduces the tolerance range and hence increases corroborability. In most psychological research, improved power of a statistical design leads to a prior probability approaching 1/2 of finding a significant difference in the theoretically predicted direction. Hence the corroboration yielded by "success" is very weak, and becomes weaker with increased precision. "Statistical significance" plays a logical role in psychology precisely the reverse of its role in physics. This problem is worsened by certain unhealthy tendencies prevalent among psychologists, such as a premium placed on experimental "cuteness" and a free reliance upon ad hoc explanations to avoid refutation



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References found in this work

The Logic of Scientific Discovery.Karl Popper - 1959 - Studia Logica 9:262-265.
Conjectures and Refutations.Karl Popper - 1963 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 19 (2):159-168.
Directional statistical decisions.Henry F. Kaiser - 1960 - Psychological Review 67 (3):160-167.
The Critical Approach to Science and Philosophy: Essays in Honor of Karl R. Popper.M. Bunge - 1967 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 18 (2):154-157.

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