, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp 191-205

The linear regression line as a judgmental aid in visual analysis of serially dependent A-B time-series data

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The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of different types and magnitudes of serial dependence (first-order moving average and autoregression) and of linear regression lines within experimental phases on the agreement between results of visual and results of statistical data analyses. The stimulus material consisted of computer-simulated A-B-design data graphs. The time series were generated with a constant variance, varying degrees of treatment effects (changes in level), five conditions of serial dependency, and with or without linear regression lines. The material was presented to three groups of student raters (n1=52, n2=14, n3=17) who rated the treatment effect in the graphs on a five-point scale. These ratings were compared with statistical results (time-series analyses). Each group had to interpret 70 graphs, 35 of which had regression lines. Data were analyzed by means of two three-factor and one four-factor ANOVA and by graphic display. The linear regression lines generally enhanced the agreement between the raters' estimations and the statistical results. Serial dependency also increased the agreement between the two analysis methods. However, with strong autoregression processes in the data, the raters tended to overestimate treatment effects relative to time-series analysis.

Parts of this study were presented at the World Congress on Behavior Therapy, Washington, DC, December 11, 1983. The authors wish to express their appreciation to Christoph Bonk and Willi Ecker for their extensive collaboration in data analysis and for their assistance in carrying out the study.