Statistical Testing and the World's Contribution to Rationality

J. D. Trout

in Measuring the Intentional World

Published in print July 1998 | ISBN: 9780195107661
Published online February 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780199786152 | DOI:
 Statistical Testing and the World's Contribution to Rationality

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Many of the background theories in the social sciences and psychology are unreliable, and so theoretical improvement often requires the experimental strain of statistical predictions. Significance testing is the primary method for establishing causal relationships in psychology, and proposes conditions that are diagnostic of the reality of a theoretical entity in psychology. The fulfillment of these conditions reflect a principle of robustness which states that real psychological effects are: (1) reproducible by similar methods, (2) detectable by diverse means, and (3) able to survive theoretical integration. The principle of robustness explains why spurious significant findings perish under the strain of persistent tests of their robustness. The resulting vindication of significance testing confers on the world a role in determining the rationality of a method, and provides a realist explanation for the fast progress of “hard” areas of psychology.

Keywords: theoretical integration; robustness; significance testing; statistical prediction; causal relationships; hard psychology; soft psychology

Chapter.  6798 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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