A false positive, also known as Type I error or alpha error, is an error that occurs when a researcher falsely concludes that an effect exists, or when a null hypothesis is rejected even though the null is true. For this reason, a false positive is also referred to as falsely rejecting the null hypothesis (or simply “falsely rejecting the null”). In other words, a claim is made that something is true when in reality it is not. It is important to understand the concept of a false positive when conducting communication research because scholars want to avoid making conclusions that are incorrect. Consider the following example: The true state of the world (reality) is that men and women have relatively equal levels ...
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