The ouroboros of psychological methodology: The case of effect sizes (mechanical objectivity vs. expertise).

The reporting and interpretation of effect sizes is often promoted as a panacea for the ramifications of institutionalized statistical rituals associated with the null-hypothesis significance test. Mechanical objectivity—conflating the use of a method with the obtainment of truth—is a useful theoretical tool for understanding the possible failure of effect size reporting (Porter, 1995). This article helps elucidate the ouroboros of psychological methodology. This is the cycle of improved tools to produce trustworthy knowledge, leading to their institutionalization and adoption as forms of thinking, leading to methodologists eventually admonishing researchers for relying too heavily on rituals, finally leading to the production of more new improved quantitative tools that may follow along this circular path. Despite many critiques and warnings, research psychologists’ superficial adoption of effect sizes might preclude expert interpretation much like in the null-hypothesis significance test as widely received. One solution to this situation is bottom-up: promoting a balance of mechanical objectivity and expertise in the teaching of methods and research. This would require the acceptance and encouragement of expert interpretation within psychological science. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)