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Not all effects are indispensable: Psychological science re-quires verifiable lines of reasoning for whether an effect matters
Anvari, F., KIEVIT, R.A., Lakens, D., Pennington, C.R., Przybylski6, A.K., Tiokhin, L., Wiernik, B.M., and ORBEN, A.
Perspectives on Psychological Science
Year of publication:
In Press
CBU number:
To help move researchers away from heuristically dismissing “small” effects as unimportant, recent articles have revisited arguments to defend why seemingly small effect sizes in psychological science matter. One argument is based on the idea that an observed effect size may increase in impact when generalized to a new context due to processes of accumulation over time or application to large populations. However, the field is now in danger of heuristically accepting all effects as potentially important. We aim to encourage researchers to think thoroughly about the various mechanisms that may both amplify and counteract the importance of an observed effect size. Researchers should draw on the multiple amplifying and counteracting mechanisms that are likely to simultaneously apply to the effect when that effect is being generalized to a new (and likely more dynamic) context. In this way, researchers should aim to transparently provide verifiable lines of reasoning to justify their claims about an effect’s (un)importance. This transparency can help move psychological science towards a more rigorous assessment of when psychological findings matter for the contexts that researchers want to generalize to.