Why checking model assumptions using null hypothesis significance tests does not suffice: A plea for plausibility

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This article explores whether the null hypothesis significance testing (NHST) framework provides a sufficient basis for the evaluation of statistical model assumptions. It is argued that while NHST-based tests can provide some degree of confirmation for the model assumption that is evaluated-formulated as the null hypothesis-these tests do not inform us of the degree of support that the data provide for the null hypothesis and to what extent the null hypothesis should be considered to be plausible after having taken the data into account. Addressing the prior plausibility of the model assumption is unavoidable if the goal is to determine how plausible it is that the model assumption holds. Without assessing the prior plausibility of the model assumptions, it remains fully uncertain whether the model of interest gives an adequate description of the data and thus whether it can be considered valid for the application at hand. Although addressing the prior plausibility is difficult, ignoring the prior plausibility is not an option if we want to claim that the inferences of our statistical model can be relied upon.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)548-559
JournalPsychonomic Bulletin & Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Statistical inference
  • Bayesian statistics
  • Belief updating
  • Statistics

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