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Article

Empirically derived guidelines for effect size interpretation in social psychology

European Journal of Social Psychology. 2021. Vol. 51. No. 3. P. 485-504.

This study estimates empirically derived guidelines for effect size interpretation for research in social psychology overall and subdisciplines within social psychology, based on analysis of the true distributions of the two types of effect size measures widely used in social psychology (correlation coefficient and standardized mean differences). Analysis of empirically derived distributions of 12,170 correlation coefficients and 6,447 Cohen’s d statistics extracted from studies included in 134 published meta-analyses revealed that the 25th, 50th, and 75th percentiles corresponded to correlation coefficient values of 0.12, 0.24, and 0.41 and to Cohen’s d values of 0.15, 0.36, and 0.65 respectively. The analysis suggests that the widely used Cohen’s guidelines tend to overestimate medium and large effect sizes. Empirically derived effect size distributions in social psychology overall and subdisciplines can be used both for effect size interpretation and for sample size planning when other information about effect size is not available.