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Normal Distribution

You (Probably) Don’t Need to Test Your Data for Normality

Anyone who analyzes data knows (or should know!) the importance of not violating the assumptions of the tests one runs. And for common tests like t-tests, correlation, ANOVA, and regression, one of the assumptions is that the variables are normally distributed. One method that some people use, then, is a test for normality of the data, such as the Kolmogorov-Smirnov (K-S) test or the Shapiro-Wilk (S-W) test. If the test indicates a deviation from normality, they might try a transformation, or use a more robust statistical test to analyze their data. I’m here to say that this is going to make life hard for yourself. Here’s the summary of this article right up front: If you want to see if normality assumptions are violated, don’t use a normality test.Continue Reading


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Sample size for given CI precision and effect size

The Price of Precision

Back in May, Uri Simonsohn posted an article to his blog about studying effect sizes in the lab, with the general conclusion that the sample sizes needed for a precise enough estimate of effect size make it essentially not feasible for the majority of lab studies. Although I was not at the recent SESP conference, I have been told he discussed this (and more!) there. Felix Schönbrodt further discussed Simonsohn’s point, noting that reporting the effect size estimates and confidence intervals is still important even if they are wildly imprecise, because they can still be used in a meta-analysis to achieve more precision. I think both of these posts are insightful, and recommend that you read them both. However, both of them use particular examples with a given level of precision or sample size to illustrate their points. I wanted to go a bit more in-depth on how the precision level and effect size changes the sample size needed, using a tool in R that Schönbrodt pointed out.Continue Reading

Psychology replication

All Effects are Real: Thoughts on Replication

I’ve been watching the recent debate about replication with interest, concern, and not just a little amusement. It seems everyone has their opinion on the matter (leave it to a field of scientists to have twice as many opinions as there are scientists in the field!), and at times the discussion has been quite heated. But as a grad student, it’s been difficult to know whether I should throw my own hat in the ring. With psychology heavyweights like Kahneman and Gilbert voicing their opinions, what room is there for a third-year grad student? But fortunately (or unfortunately), I’ve never been one to know when to keep my opinions to myself, so I want to present my own thoughts on the matter. My perspective is that, even if the issue gets heated at times, this discussion can be fruitful as we learn to navigate a changing discipline.Continue Reading

Canadian passport

The Story of the Lost Passport

Personal · · Leave a comment

Folks, when you’re travelling, make sure you know where your passport is at all times. Why do I say that? Because forgetting your passport at an inopportune time can lead to the biggest headache that you’ll ever face. I now know this from personal experience. Gather ’round, kids, and let me tell you the story of when I made a stupid mistake and then suffered for it for the rest of the day.

The story begins in Chicago. Yesterday. My friends and I had arrived at O’Hare airport on our way back from a social psychology convention in Austin. We had a layover in Chicago and were waiting for our second flight to the Kitchener airport. It was an evening flight, and I was looking forward to being home. The employees at the desk announced that our flight was ready to board, and I grabbed my things, ready to finally leave! And then they announced, “Because this is an international flight, please have your passport ready to show the attendant along with your boarding pass.” And that’s when my heart sank.Continue Reading