Missing Base Rates as a Cause of Misinterpretation: A Commentary on Roberts et al. (2020)
Keywords:race, racial inequality, systemic inequality, metascience
AbstractIn an article in Perspectives on Psychological Science, Roberts et al. (2020) analyzed racial representation among publications and authors within three fields of psychology, restricting their analysis to publications that highlight race. However, Roberts et al. did not present population base rates to provide context for their results. As a result, they interpreted their bibliometric analysis as indicating an over-representation of White authors in social and developmental psychology (in publications that highlight race) with no consideration of base rates. I demonstrate that when base rates are considered, the data suggest White under-representation in recent decades. Roberts and colleagues also report a correlation between non-White editorship, non-White authorship, and non-White participant recruitment, and then conclude that diverse editorship causes an increase in diverse authorship and participant recruitment. They do not consider that demographic change—an overall increase in the proportion of non-Whites in the U.S.—is an alternative explanation for this phenomenon. Secondary problems with the target article are also noted.
Metrics Loading ...
Copyright (c) 2023 Chris Martin
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.