Planning sample sizes when effect sizes are uncertain: The power-calibrated effect size approach

Blakeley B. McShane*, Ulf Böckenholt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Scopus citations

Abstract

Statistical power and thus the sample size required to achieve some desired level of power depend on the size of the effect of interest. However, effect sizes are seldom known exactly in psychological research. Instead, researchers often possess an estimate of an effect size as well as a measure of its uncertainty (e.g., a standard error or confidence interval). Previous proposals for planning sample sizes either ignore this uncertainty thereby resulting in sample sizes that are too small and thus power that is lower than the desired level or overstate the impact of this uncertainty thereby resulting in sample sizes that are too large and thus power that is higher than the desired level. We propose a power-calibrated effect size (PCES) approach to sample size planning that accounts for the uncertainty associated with an effect size estimate in a properly calibrated manner: sample sizes determined on the basis of the PCES are neither too small nor too large and thus provide the desired level of power. We derive the PCES for comparisons of independent and dependent means, comparisons of independent and dependent proportions, and tests of correlation coefficients. We also provide a tutorial on setting sample sizes for a replication study using data from prior studies and discuss an easy-to-use website and code that implement our PCES approach to sample size planning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)47-60
Number of pages14
JournalPsychological methods
Volume21
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016

Keywords

  • Effect size
  • Power
  • Sample size
  • Statistical significance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology (miscellaneous)

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