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Consequences of using power transforms as a statistical solution in linear mixed-effects models of chronometric data  /

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Description: Power transforms have been increasingly used in linear mixed-effects models (LMMs) of chronometric data (e.g., response times [RTs]) as a statistical solution to preempt violating the assumption of residual normality. However, differences in results between LMMs fit to raw RTs and transformed RTs have reignited discussions on issues concerning the transformation of RTs. Here, we analyzed three word-recognition megastudies and performed Monte Carlo simulations to better understand the consequences of transforming RTs in LMMs. Within each megastudy, transforming RTs produced different fixed- and random-effect patterns; across the megastudies, RTs were optimally normalized by different power transforms, and results were more consistent among LMMs fit to raw RTs. Moreover, the simulations showed that LMMs fit to optimally normalized RTs had greater power for main effects in smaller samples, but that LMMs fit to raw RTs had greater power for interaction effects as sample sizes increased, with negligible differences in Type I error rates between the two models. Based on these results, LMMs should be fit to raw RTs when there is no compelling reason beyond nonnormality to transform RTs and when the interpretive framework mapping the predictors and RTs treats RT as an interval scale.

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