Effect size and power in assessing moderating effects of categorical variables using multiple regression: A 30-year review

Aguinis, Herman, Beaty, J. C., Boik, R. J., and Pierce, Charles A.
Journal of Applied Psychology Vol. 90, Issue 1, p. 94-107

The authors conducted a 30-year review (1969-1998) of the size of moderating effects of categorical variables as assessed using multiple regression. The median observed effect size of (f2) is only .002, but 72% of the moderator tests reviewed had power of .80 or greater to detect a targeted effect conventionally defined as small. Results suggest the need to minimize the influence of artifacts that produce a downward bias in the observed effect size and put into question the use of conventional definitions of moderating effect sizes. As long as an effect has a meaningful impact, the authors advise researchers to conduct a power analysis and plan future research designs based on smaller and more realistic targeted effect sizes.