To help move researchers away from heuristically dismissing “small” effects as unimportant, recent articles have revisited arguments to defend why seemingly small effect sizes in psychological science matter. One argument is based on the idea that an observed effect size may increase in impact when generalized to a new context because of processes of accumulation over time or application to large populations. However, the field is now in danger of heuristically accepting all effects as potentially important. We aim to encourage researchers to think thoroughly about the various mechanisms that may both amplify and counteract the importance of an observed effect size. Researchers should draw on the multiple amplifying and counteracting mechanisms that are likely to simultaneously apply to the effect when that effect is being generalized to a new and likely more dynamic context. In this way, researchers should aim to transparently provide verifiable lines of reasoning to justify their claims about an effect’s importance or unimportance. This transparency can help move psychological science toward a more rigorous assessment of when psychological findings matter for the contexts that researchers want to generalize to.
Bibliographical note(c) Sage, 2022. This manuscript has been accepted for publication in Perspectives on Psychological Science. The final publication is available via Sage at [https://doi.org/10.1177/17456916221091565]
- effect size
- practical significance