Meehl's Contribution to Clinical Versus Statistical Prediction

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Abstract

Paul E. Meehl's work on the clinical versus statistical prediction controversy is reviewed. His contributions included the following: putting the controversy center stage in applied psychology; clarifying concepts underpinning the debate (especially his crucial distinction between ways of gathering data and ways of combining them) as well as establishing that the controversy was real and not concocted, analyzing clinical inference from both theoretical and probabilistic points of view, and reviewing studies that compared the accuracy of these 2 methods of data combination. Meehl's (1954/1996) conclusion that statistical prediction consistently outperforms clinical judgment has stood up extremely well for half a century. His conceptual analyses have not been significantly improved since he published them in the 1950s and 1960s. His work in this area contains several citation classics, which are part of the working knowledge of all competent applied psychologists today.

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