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Psychology Brown Bag Looks at the Null Hypothesis

The Psychology Department continues its Brown Bag series with Margaret Reardon discussing “Predicting the Null: Am I Setting Myself up for Failure?” on Wednesday, October 17, 2012, from 12:20 to 1:10 p.m. in Uhler Hall, Room 111.

Statistical wisdom holds that the null hypothesis should not be predicted and academia has been resistant to publishing null findings. This presentation explores the utility of this traditional viewpoint within the context of a juror decision making study. Research has just begun examining how jurors evaluate fingerprint evidence (e.g., Reardon, Danielsen & Meissner, 2005) and suggests that jurors are responsive to some aspects of the fingerprint expert’s testimony (e.g., quality of the print) but not to other aspects (e.g., expert’s declaration of a match). The current study furthers this work by testing whether jurors are sensitive to aspects of the fingerprint examination procedure that could bias the results including whether the examiner had prior knowledge of the case, and the affiliation of the examiner. The results of this study confirm the predicted null effect, suggesting that jurors are insensitive to aspects of the fingerprint analysis procedure that can bias the process. The validity of these results will be discussed within the context of predicting null effects.

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