Is Psychological Research Really as Good as Medical Research?: Effect Size Comparisons Between Psychology and Medicine

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Abstract

Researchers have looked at comparisons between medical epidemiological research and psychological research using effect size r in an effort to compare relative effects. Often the outcomes of such efforts have demonstrated comparatively low effects for medical epidemiology research in comparison with effect sizes seen in psychology. The conclusion has often been that relatively small effects seen in psychology research are as strong as those found in important epidemiological medical research. The author suggests that many of the calculated effect sizes from medical epidemiological research on which this conclusion has been based are flawed. Specifically, rather than calculating effect sizes for treatment, many results have been for a Treatment Effect × Disease Effect interaction that was irrelevant to the main study hypothesis. A technique for developing a “hypothesis-relevant” effect size r is proposed.

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