My question is regarding questions such as What's the best way to calculate an index score based on reaction time, variance and accuracy? and I just wanted to have what I consider a grey area cleared up.

The question is talking about result data from go/no go tests and asking how to correlate the data to produce index scores.

Whilst I understand that the testing is in the psychology domain, is data manipulation through statistical calculations such as mean, mode or median reaction times along with their respective standard deviations on-topic for this site or should they be directed to CrossValidated?

Are other mathematical calculation methods on-topic for this site when related to psychology/neuroscience or should they be directed to Mathematics?

marked as duplicate by Steven Jeuris Jul 26 '18 at 8:11

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.


In these cases I personally look whether the question is on

  • The interpretation of the results (on-topic), or whether it is on
  • Mathematical procedures per se (off topic).

To clarify this with an example; let's look at the linked question:

Say I have a go/go no task, and my output data includes 3 parameters: avg. reaction time, variance of RT, and number of errors. I want to composite all the parameters into a single index score- what is the best way to do it? all the parameters are equally important to me.

Now, let's replace the key parts with abstract symbols:

I have 3 outcome parameters: average, SD, and number of incorrect answers. I want to composite all the parameters into a single index score- what is the best way to do it? all the parameters are equally important to me.

To me, the question doesn't make sense anymore, as the #incorrect answers is a typical outcome parameter for psychophysical tests, which is the domain of psychology. Further the psychophysical go/no-go task is essential to understand the question. In other words, this is all about the interpretation of data in the realm of psychology, and hence on-topic imo.

Now let's take an obvious example that is, imo, offtopic:

I have a population of people with suicidal thoughts. I have given them a questionnaire with yes/no questions and now I wish to know if their suicidal thoughts are linked to their having a depression or not, and whether it's linked to a familial history of suicides.

That's offtopic imo, as it can be replaced by meaningless symbols and reduced to a hardcore stat question:

I have given my subjects with disease X a questionnaire with yes/no questions and now I wish to know if X is linked to 2 specific binary question outcomes?

Answer: You have to use a test based on a binomial distribution, such as....

  • I follow what you are saying here to a degree. So for clarification, if the original question asked about working with the average and SD without confusing things with the number of incorrect answers it would be off-topic and be for CrossValidated, but it became on-topic because of the confusion over the number of incorrect answers for which we could provide an answer? – Chris Rogers Jul 26 '18 at 7:17
  • 1
    @ChrisRogers key here is that OP asks about the interpretation of the outcome variables of a psychophysical test – AliceD Jul 26 '18 at 7:27
  • This reflects what we more or less agreed on when the site started out, and I feel this still is how we generally treat such questions: psychology.meta.stackexchange.com/a/193/21 – Steven Jeuris Jul 26 '18 at 8:15
  • Also relevant to add, we typically ask the OPs opinion prior to migrating. Possibly they can elaborate to clarify why it is specific to our site. – Steven Jeuris Jul 26 '18 at 8:16

If there has already been an agreement on this which I have missed I apologise, but my thoughts on this are that the separate aspects of our work such as mathematics and statistics when calculating results such as these into averages etc. should be directed to the relevant site.

The only exception I can think of, is if the mathematics or statistics is specific to the domain of psychology or neuroscience, and it may confuse statisticians or mathematicians who only work in the pure mathematics or statistics field.

One example can be from the field of electronic engineering which I came from before studying psychology. "j notation" is used for imaginary numbers instead of the pure mathematics use of "i".

There is good reason for that, and if the notations got mixed up with someone who is learning this area of mathematics within electronic engineering, they can be very confused themselves, let alone the mathematicians who are trying to help.

I cannot think of anything like this within the scope of this site but if so, I could see the reason for asking here.

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