A Primer on Regression Artifacts

Donald T. Campbell and David A. Kenny

August 5, 1999
ISBN 9781572304826
Price: $70.00 $52.50
202 Pages
Size: 6" x 9"
December 11, 2002
ISBN 9781572308596
Price: $35.00 $26.25
202 Pages
Size: 6" x 9"

Regression toward the mean is a complex statistical principle that plays a crucial role in any research involving the measurement of change. This primer is designed to help researchers more fully understand this phenomenon and avoid common errors in interpretation. The book presents new methods of graphing regression toward the mean, facilitating comprehension with a wealth of figures and diagrams. Special attention is given to applications related to program or treatment evaluation. Numerous concrete examples illustrate the ways researchers all too often attribute effects to an intervention or other causal variable without considering regression artifacts as an alternative explanation for change. Also discussed are instances when problems are actually created, instead of solved, by "correction" for regression toward the mean. Throughout, the authors strive to use nontechnical language and to keep simulations and formulas as accessible as possible.

This title is part of the Methodology in the Social Sciences Series, edited by Todd D. Little, PhD.

“All mental health researchers must read this book, which definitely explores a vital topic. It is a magnificent concluding collaboration between Kenny and the late Campbell, the 20th century's foremost behavioral science methodologist.”


Table of Contents

1. Graphical Introduction

2. Mathematics and Special Cases

3. Regression Artifacts Due to Extreme Group Selection

4. Regression Artifacts Due to Matching

5. Regression Artifacts Due to Statistical "Equating"

6. Regression Artifacts in Change Scores

7. Regression Artifacts in Time-Series Studies

8. Regression Artifacts in Longitudinal Studies

9. Cross-Lagged Panel Correlation Analysis

10. Conclusion

* Glossary of Terms

* Glossary of Symbols

* Appendix A: Dice-Rolling Program and Data Sets Used as Illustrations

* Appendix B: The Computation of Autocorrelations

About the Authors

Donald T. Campbell, PhD, before his death in 1996 was University Professor of Social Relations, Psychology, and Education at Lehigh University. He had previously taught at Ohio State University, the University of Chicago, Northwestern University, and Syracuse University. He was a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a President of the American Psychological Association. He was the recipient of 9 honorary doctorates.

David A. Kenny, PhD, is Professor of Social Psychology at the University of Connecticut. He has been a visiting professor at Oxford University and Arizona State University, and was a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences.


Researchers and graduate students in a range of behavioral and social science disciplines, including psychology, sociology, communication, education, and political science. Readers are assumed to have at least one prior course in statistics and research design.

Serves as a supplemental text in advanced undergraduate and graduate-level courses in research design, psychometrics, and regression analysis.

Course Use

Serves as a supplemental text in advanced undergraduate and graduate-level courses in research design and analysis, psychometrics, and regression.