Reform of statistical inference in psychology: The case ofMemory & Cognition

  • Sue FinchEmail author
  • Geoff Cumming
  • Jennifer Williams
  • Lee Palmer
  • Elvira Griffith
  • Chris Alders
  • James Anderson
  • Olivia Goodman


Geoffrey Loftus, Editor ofMemory & Cognition from 1994 to 1997, strongly encouraged presentation of figures with error bars and avoidance of null hypothesis significance testing (NHST). The authors examined 696Memory & Cognition articles published before, during, and after the Loftus editorship. Use of figures with bars increased to 47% under Loftus’s editorship and then declined. Bars were rarely used for interpretation, and NHST remained almost universal. Analysis of 309 articles in other psychology journals confirmed that Loftus’s influence was most evident in the articles he accepted for publication, but was otherwise limited. An e-mail survey of authors of papers accepted by Loftus revealed some support for his policy, but allegiance to traditional practices as well. Reform of psychologists’ statistical practices would require more than editorial encouragement.


Statistical Inference American Psychological Association Lead Author Reporting Practice Psychology Journal 
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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sue Finch
    • 1
    Email author
  • Geoff Cumming
    • 2
  • Jennifer Williams
    • 2
  • Lee Palmer
    • 2
  • Elvira Griffith
    • 2
  • Chris Alders
    • 2
  • James Anderson
    • 2
  • Olivia Goodman
    • 2
  1. 1.Statistical Consulting CentreUniversity of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia
  2. 2.School of Psychological ScienceLa Trobe UniversityMelbourneAustralia

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