Timothy Levine

Timothy Levine
University of Alabama at Birmingham | UAB · Department of Communication Studies

About

172
Publications
156,655
Reads
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7,714
Citations
Additional affiliations
January 2015 - present
University of Alabama at Birmingham
Position
  • Distinguished Professor & Chair
March 2013 - March 2015
Korea University
Position
  • Professor (Full)

Publications

Publications (172)
Article
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Lie frequency and motives were examined from the perspectives of senders and receivers. Participants (N = 294) were randomly assigned to either report on recent lies they told or on lies told to them by others. Based on truth-default theory, it was predicted that the frequency of reports of own lies told would be positively skewed, that most lies w...
Article
A survey was conducted (N = 632) to determine which of the Big Five personality traits tended to be related to each of the three traits specified in the superdiffuser model of diffusion and influence (connector, persuader, maven). The purpose of the study was to better understand the traits that form the core of the superdiffuser model of opinion l...
Article
Testing truth-default theory, individual-level variation in lie frequency was parsed from within-individual day-to-day variation (good/bad lie days) by examining 116,366 lies told by 632 participants over 91 days. As predicted and consistent with prior findings, the distribution was positively skewed. Most participants lied infrequently and most li...
Article
Two field studies investigated people’s inferences about the honesty or deceptiveness of two Korean artists whose work may or may not have been forged. Based on the projective motive model from truth-default theory, it was anticipated that judgments of honesty would be impacted by people’s perceptions of the artist’s apparent motive for lying. The...
Article
Truth-default Theory proposes that the frequency of lying is not normally distributed across the population and that most lies are told by a few prolific liars. A survey with a probability sample examined the frequency of lying among of adults in South Korea. Consistent with theoretical predictions and well-documented prior findings from the United...
Article
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In the psychological research literature, deception is often discussed as a ubiquitous phenomenon. However, recent research has revealed that the mean of two lies per day is highly misleading due to a skewed distribution, with most people telling zero lies on any given day. We sought to explore how the presentation of statistics on lie frequency af...
Article
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Truth-Default Theory (TDT) predicts that across countries and cultures, a few people tell most of the lies, while a majority of people lie less frequently than average. This prediction, referred to as “a few prolific liars,” is tested in Japan. The study further investigated the extent to which the Dark Triad personality traits predict the frequenc...
Article
We examined the interplay between how communication researchers use meta-analyses to make claims and the prevalence, causes, and implications of unresolved heterogeneous findings. Heterogeneous findings can result from substantive moderators, methodological artifacts, and combined construct invalidity. An informal content analysis of meta-analyses...
Article
Deception detection is a topic covered in many psychology and communication courses. We designed and implemented an engaging class activity to facilitate the students’ learning of several key concepts related to sender and receiver variability in lie detection. The pedagogical effectiveness of the activity was measured. In line with previous resear...
Article
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The relative advantage of indirect and unconscious lie detection compared to direct detection is examined. Empirical evidence for the superiority of indirect and unconscious lie is unconvincing. Three empirical issues include comparisons of incommensurate outcomes, questionable results in control conditions, and evidence for improved performance of...
Article
The core idea of truth-default theory (T. R. Levine, 2014) is that when people cognitively process the content of others’ communication, they typically do so in a manner characterized by unquestioned, passive acceptance. Two deception detection experiments tested the existence of the truth-default by comparing prompted and unprompted evaluations of...
Article
Research has found discrepancies among folk beliefs about lie detection, deception cue utility, and retrospective accounts of detected lies. Elite customs agents (N = 37) were surveyed regarding their overall beliefs about how to detect lies (general strategy), their opinions about best practices (best strategy), and about a successfully detected l...
Article
Inconsistency is often considered an indication of deceit. The conceptualization of consistency used in deception research, however, has not made a clear distinction between two concepts long differentiated by philosophers: coherence and correspondence. The existing literature suggests that coherence is not generally useful for deception detection....
Article
In an effort to better understand the state of knowledge production in the field of Communication, we examine the results of 149 meta-analyses exploring human communication phenomena. The meta-analyses summarize more than 60 years of quantitative research involving more than 8 million participants. The mean effect estimate is r = .21, and three-qua...
Article
Cultures may differ in descriptive and injunctive norms about lying and telling the truth and also in terms of the extent to which individuals intend to tell a lie or the truth when a friend is in trouble. Study 1 (N = 460) showed that Koreans had stronger intentions to lie for a friend and weaker intentions to tell the truth than Americans. For ly...
Article
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The concept of ecological validity is explicated and applied to deception detection research. The ecology of the deception lab typically involves researchers randomly assigning and instructing senders to lie or tell the truth. In lab-based lie detection tasks, receivers are prompted to make explicit truth-lie judgments in real time where truths and...
Article
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James C. McCroskey passed away on December 27, 2012. He contributed immensely to the study of human communication. He led the field in in-field publications and citations. Perhaps his most lasting contribution is naming and measuring communication constructs. James C. McCroskey contributed substantially to Communication Research Reports as a past e...
Article
This article provides a re-analysis of Vrij et al.'s (2017, Leg. Crim. Psychol. 22, 1) meta-analysis of the cognitive approach to lie detection. Vrij et al.'s analyses confounded dependent variables, capitalized on aberrant controls, and used unreliable data to inflate support. Meta-analysis was used to reanalyse Vrij et al.'s data. Studies of huma...
Chapter
The Verbal Aggressiveness Scale (VAS) is a 20-item self-report measure of the personality trait of verbal aggressiveness (Infante & Wigley, 1986). Trait verbal aggressiveness is defined as the predisposition to attack the self-concepts of others. The scale has been widely used in communication research. VAS scores are typically internally consisten...
Article
Two experiments provided the first tests of the Park-Levine Probability Model in an intercultural context. The Park-Levine Model predicts a linear relationship between truth–lie base-rates in messages judged and the proportion of correct truth-lie judgments. Korean students watched and judged videotapes of American students denying that they cheate...
Article
Recent communication research shows several paths to improving accuracy in deception detection. According to truth-default theory, one promising approach is diagnostic questioning. A sample of elite U.S. Customs agents participated in a deception detection task. Agents viewed senders who were interrogated with one of three different sets of questio...
Article
A round-robin experiment unpacked message veracity, sender believability (demeanor), judge truth-bias, sender transparency, and judge deception detection accuracy. Generally, more variance was observed in senders than in judges. The data were suggestive of the existence of an unusually transparent liar, but the data were not consistent with a decep...
Article
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Based on truth-default theory, this research examined accounts of recalled deception to develop a list of deception motives that are general across cultures. Participants from Egypt (N = 29), Guatemala (N = 118), Pakistan (N = 51), Saudi Arabia (N = 169), and the United States (N = 81) were asked, open-ended, to describe an instance of deception or...
Chapter
Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA) is a set of statistical analyses that is increasingly prevalent in interpersonal communication research. CFA is most commonly used to assess the adequacy of multiple-item rating scales in quantitative, empirical research. CFA is distinguished from exploratory factor analysis, and issues such as assessing fit, cros...
Article
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This essay continues a debate about the relative scientific merits of the Park-Levine Model (PLM) and Interpersonal Deception Theory (IDT) with regard to accuracy in deception detection. Key points of disagreement include (a) the degree to which message recipients are sensitive to sender veracity and (b) the extent to which interactivity moderates...
Article
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Until recently, accuracy in deception detection experiments was 54% plus or minus 10% with an accuracy ceiling of 67%. Slightly-better-than-chance accuracy findings, however, are no longer inevitable. The old accuracy ceiling has given way as recent findings documenting substantially improved levels of accuracy have accumulated and replicated. The...
Article
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Purpose – To function effectively, police must separate lies from truth. Police, ideally, would be experts at this task, yet there is debate surrounding whether expertise in detecting deception is possible. Drawing upon literature outside of deception detection, the purpose of this paper is to explore whether subjects making deception judgments can...
Chapter
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This chapter provides an overview of research on non-verbal lie detection and some new meta-analytic findings. The chapter begins with a review of classic theories of deception which predict the existence of non-verbal cues to deception. A brief overview of the empirical findings on behavioural cues to deception based on meta-analytic findings is a...
Article
Consumers often rate online product reviews in terms of helpfulness. To explore the linguistic features that may contribute to helpfulness ratings, a linguistic inquiry and word count analysis compared 377 helpful and unhelpful Amazon.com product reviews, showing that helpful and unhelpful reviews differed across 23 of 67 linguistic categories. Res...
Article
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Actively detecting deception requires (a) gathering information for fact-checking the communication content, (b) strategically prompting deception cues, and (c) encouraging honest admissions and discouraging continued deceit. Most deception-detection research, active or otherwise, finds that people are only slightly better than chance at correctly...
Article
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This essay provides a unifying commentary concluding this special issue on new theories of deception. Information Manipulation Theory 2 (IMT2) and Truth-Default Theory (TDT) offer perspectives of deception that contrast with many past and current approaches. Key points of difference between these new theories and prior works include how deception i...
Article
Recently, Kim, Levine, and Allen have successfully demonstrated that the intertwined model of psychological reactance is applicable for message features other than freedom threat (i.e., personal insult, poor argument). The supporting evidence was obtained where resistance prevailed. The current study further extends the utility of the intertwined m...
Article
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Truth-Default Theory (TDT) is a new theory of deception and deception detection. This article offers an initial sketch of, and brief introduction to, TDT. The theory seeks to provide an elegant explanation of previous findings as well as point to new directions for future research. Unlike previous theories of deception detection, TDT emphasizes con...
Article
Meta-analysis indicates moderate correlations between the Verbal Aggressiveness Scale (VAS) and other self-report measures but near-zero correlations with behavioral measures. Accurately interpreting correlations between the VAS and other variables, however, requires an examination of the untested error theory underlying the measurement model for t...
Article
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In a proof-of-concept study, an expert obtained 100% deception-detection accuracy over 33 interviews. Tapes of the interactions were shown to N = 136 students who obtained 79.1% accuracy (Mdn = 83.3%, mode = 100%). The findings were replicated in a second experiment with 5 different experts who collectively conducted 89 interviews. The new experts...
Article
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Consistent with the Park and Levine's (PL) probability model of deception detection accuracy, previous research has shown that as the proportion of honest messages increases, there is a corresponding linear increase in correct truth–lie discrimination. Three experiments (N = 120, 205, and 243, respectively) varied the truth–lie base rate in an inte...
Article
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The concept of diagnostic utility was used to create questions that would differentially affect deception detection accuracy. Six deception detection studies show that subtle differences in questioning produced accuracy rates that were predictably, substantially, and reliably above and below chance. The first 3 detection studies demonstrate that di...
Article
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Sender demeanor is an individual difference in the believability of message senders that is conceptually independent of actual honesty. Recent research suggests that sender demeanor may be the most influential source of variation in deception detection judgments. Sender demeanor was varied in five experiments (N = 30, 113, 182, 30, and 35) to creat...
Article
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It has been commonplace in the deception literature to assert the pervasive nature of deception in communication practices. Previous studies of lie prevalence find that lying is unusual compared to honest communication. Recent research, and reanalysis of previous studies reporting the frequency of lies, shows that most people are honest most of the...
Article
People are reluctant to share bad news. Reasons include self-presentation and sensitivity to receiver emotionality. An experiment investigated these reasons during interactions between friends and strangers. Females (N = 330, 165 dyads) gave good or bad news to a close friend or stranger. Time to response was recorded. The MUM effect replicated for...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The accuracy of consumer detection of marketing deception is a much understudied phenomenon. In fact, more than 30 years ago it was deemed unworthy of study and subsequently has mostly been ignored. But in the social psychological literature of human lie detection there is a growing realization that measuring accuracy is key to identifying certain...
Article
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Although it is commonly believed that lying is ubiquitous, recent findings show large, individual differences in lying, and that the proclivity to lie varies by age. This research surveyed 58 high school students, who were asked how often they had lied in the past 24 hr. It was predicted that high school students would report lying with greater fre...
Article
This investigation compares whether an intertwined or a separate process model better explains message failure incurred by threat to freedom. The current project extends the intertwined model proposed by Dillard and Shen (200513. Dillard , J. P. , & Shen , L. ( 2005 ). On the nature of reactance and its role in persuasive health communication . C...
Article
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An argument is advanced for the propositions that a lack of statistically significant findings does not automatically justify rejecting a scientific article for publication or mean that the findings are necessarily uninformative. Systematically declining publication for nonsignificant results leads to negative consequences that include distorting s...
Article
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This research examines question effects in deception detection. A first set of participants (N = 104) were given the opportunity to cheat to obtain a cash prize, and were then interviewed with accusatory, non-accusatory, bait, or false evidence questioning. A second set of participants (N = 157) watched videotapes of the interviews and made honesty...
Article
Trends in quantitative communication research are reviewed. A content analysis of 48 articles reporting original communication research published in 1988-1991 and 2008-2011 is reported. Survey research and self-report measurement remain common approaches to research. Null hypothesis significance testing remains the dominant approach to statistical...
Article
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Purpose ‐ The purpose of this paper is to present a review of the deception detection literature that arrives at a different conclusion from the one presented by King and Dunn. Specifically, the authors' review shows that people can detect deception at significantly above chance accuracy in policing environments. A new paradigm for deception detect...
Article
This article considers the neuroendocrine factors leading to systematic differences in trait verbal aggression (VA). Verbally aggressive people produce messages that attack the self-concept of another (D. A. Infante & C. J. Wigley, 1986). A neuroendocrine factor, prenatal androgen exposure (PNAE), was proposed as a possible predictor of VA. To expl...
Article
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This research explores the relationship between campus political norms and student political participation. This study conceptualizes norms as a group-level construct by collecting data at several universities (k = 32 universities, n = 1,389 students) where norms vary without campaign intervention. Multilevel modeling reveals that perceptions of po...
Article
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Following Leary's (1995) impression management model, three experiments assessed factors that affect deceptive self-presentations of height and weight. One experiment examined the role of biased cognitive processing. It revealed interactions between biased scanning—focusing on one's own socially desirable characteristics—and participants' sex that...
Article
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This article addresses controversy over the validity of two popular scales used to measure trait argumentativeness and verbal aggressiveness. The first half of the article offers a rejoinder to the Infante, Rancer, and Wigley article. It is argued that original conceptualizations of the scales are logically incoherent and lack empirical corresponde...
Article
This study investigated individual and cultural differences in preferences for direct communication style. Individualism and face needs were examined for variations across individuals and cultures. Multilevel analyses were conducted on data (N = 929) collected in 17 countries. The results showed that individual variations were larger than cultural...
Article
The arithmetic mean is ubiquitous in communication research. Although the reporting of descriptive statistics is desirable and encouraged, caution is needed in special circumstances. Three potential problems with means are discussed. The mean can be misleading when (a) data are not normally distributed, (b) when there are undetected treatment × sub...
Article
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A fundamental dimension along which all social and personal relationships vary is closeness. The Unidimensional Relationship Closeness Scale (URCS) is a 12-item self-report scale measuring the closeness of social and personal relationships. The reliability and validity of the URCS were assessed with college dating couples (N = 192), female friends...
Article
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The current paper reexamines how suspicion affects deception detection accuracy. McCornack and Levine's (199016. McCornack , S. A. , & Levine , T. R. ( 1990 ). When lovers become leery: The relationship between suspicion and accuracy in detecting deception . Communication Monographs , 57 , 219 – 230 . doi: doi:10.1080/03637759009376197 [Taylor &...
Article
Full-text available
Sender demeanor is an individual difference in the believability of message senders that is conceptually independent of actual honesty. Recent research suggests that sender demeanor may be the most influential source of variation in deception detection judgments. Sender demeanor was varied in five experiments (N = 30, 113, 182, 30, and 35) to creat...
Article
Statistical conclusions validity refers to the degree to which we make correct statistical inferences from the analysis of data. The conventional use of null hypothesis significance tests to evaluate scientific hypotheses, coupled with the editorial practices of scholarly journals, lead to probabilistic error rates. The net result is “mixed support...
Article
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The new television series Lie to Me portrays a social scientist solving crimes through his ability to read nonverbal communication. Promotional materials claim the content is based on actual science. Participants (N = 108) watched an episode of Lie to Me, a different drama, or no program and then judged a series of honest and deceptive interviews....
Article
This article investigated how culture influences self-construal and self-expression on Facebook, a popular social networking site. To examine actual self-description representative of self-construal, unaltered independently existing information was garnered from the Facebook pages of Caucasian Americans, African Americans, and ethnic Asians attendi...
Article
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The principle of veracity specifies a moral asymmetry between honesty and deceit. Deception requires justification, whereas honesty does not. Three experiments provide evidence consistent with the principle of veracity. In Study 1, participants (N = 66) selected honest or deceptive messages in response to situations in which motive was varied. Stud...
Article
The MUM effect refers to the robust research finding that people are more hesitant to share bad news relative to good news. An experiment utilized a false feedback test design to determine whether the MUM effect stems from a reluctance to share bad news, an eagerness to share good news, or both. Participants (N = 114) shared good, neutral, or bad n...
Chapter
Sex TalkJust Friends and Sex Too?Casual SexHistory and PrevalenceSo, Why have Sex with a Friend?Communication in Friends with Benefits RelationshipsThe Bottom Line
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Past research has shown that people are only slightly better than chance at distinguishing truths from lies. Higher accuracy rates, however, are possible when contextual knowledge is used to judge the veracity of situated message content. The utility of content in context was shown in a series of experiments with students (N = 26, 45, 51, 25, 127)...
Article
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Deception detection experiments consistently find that people are only slightly better than chance at distinguishing truths from lies. Interpersonal deception theory research, however, claims that people can accurately detect deception when honesty is assessed with continuous scaling. This article reports an experiment (N = 140) directly testing if...
Article
One explanation for the finding of slightly above-chance accuracy in detecting deception experiments is limited variance in sender transparency. The current study sought to increase accuracy by increasing variance in sender transparency with strategic interrogative questioning. Participants (total N = 128) observed cheaters and noncheaters who were...
Article
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Journal citations are increasingly used as indicators of the impact of scholarly work. Because many communication journals are not included in the Social Science Citation Index (SSCI), SSCI impact factors are potentially misleading for communication journals. The current paper reports a citation analysis of 30 communication journals based on Google...
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Deception detection experiments consistently find that people are statistically significantly, but only slightly, better than chance. The stability of this finding and the lack of variance in judge ability are at odds with current and classic deception theory that explains accuracy in terms of message recipient’s ability to spot leaked deception cu...
Article
Absent a perceived motive for deception, people will infer that a message source is honest. As a consequence, confessions should be believed more often than denials, true confessions will be correctly judged as honest, and false confessions will be misjudged. In the first experiment, participants judged true and false confessions and denials. As pr...
Article
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This study addresses the frequency and the distribution of reported lying in the adult population. A national survey asked 1,000 U.S. adults to report the number of lies told in a 24-hour period. Sixty percent of subjects report telling no lies at all, and almost half of all lies are told by only 5% of subjects; thus, prevalence varies widely and m...
Article
Academic dishonesty is a problem in academia and cheating is a problem in society at large. Sensation-seeking was proposed as a personality trait that is positively related to one’s likelihood to cheat. A sample of 105 undergraduates participated in a research activity for course credit where cheating on a trivia game to win a cash prize by taking...
Article
The construct validity of Infante and Wigley's verbal aggressiveness scale and Infante and Rancer's argumentativeness scale are assessed with confirmatory factor analysis and multitrait–multimethod analysis. The factor analytic data replicate previous findings that the verbal aggressiveness scale measures two constructs, verbal aggressiveness and v...
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Meta-analysis involves cumulating effects across studies in order to qualitatively summarize existing literatures. A recent finding suggests that the effect sizes reported in meta-analyses may be negatively correlated with study sample sizes. This prediction was tested with a sample of 51 published meta-analyses summarizing the results of 3,602 ind...
Article
Fear appeals are often used in public health campaigns in Africa to prevent further spread of HIV/AIDS. Based on the extended parallel processing model framework (K. Witte, 1991), this research assessed the impact of such messages in a high-fear situation. A 2 (high threat, low threat) × 2 (high efficacy, no efficacy) experiment with a no-message o...
Article
Relational satisfaction and stability following discovered incidents of relational betrayal were investigated. Predictions from Social Exchange Theory, specifically Rusbult's Investment Model, were tested along with the effects of communication strategies. Participants (N = 155) completed a questionnaire about a recalled betrayal. Inconsistent with...
Article
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People likely hold different opinions about deceptive communication. Lie acceptability refers to an individual's attitude about deceptive communication. A self-report measure of lie acceptability was updated and refined, and preliminary data (N = 312) consistent with validity were reported. CFA indicated acceptable fit to the a priori unidimensiona...
Article
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This study examined differences in language usage as a function of message veracity and speech act type. A quasi-experiment crossed truthful and deceptive messages with confessions and denials in an induced cheating situation. Transcribed messages were analyzed with Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC) software. Relative to honest participants,...
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This paper offers a practical guide to use null hypotheses significance testing and its alternatives. The focus is on improving the quality of statistical inference in quantitative communication research. More consistent reporting of descriptive statistics, estimates of effect size, confidence intervals around effect sizes, and increasing the stati...