Overlapping Distributions

My fourth warning [in Chapter 18] is really a reiteration of an important point made earlier in this book regarding "overlapping distributions." If two groups of scores are compared and found to differ significantly from each other (even at impressive p-levels), it is exceedingly likely that the highest scores in the low group are higher than the lowest scores in the high group. When this is the case, as it almost always is, a researcher should not claim--or even suggest--that the individuals in the high group outperformed the individuals in the other group. What legitimately can be said is that people in the one group, on the average, did better. Those three little words on the average are essential to keep in mind when reading research reports.

(From Chapter 18 in the 6th edition, p. 455)

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Schuyler W. Huck
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