Bayes factor design analysis: Planning for compelling evidence

Psychon Bull Rev. 2018 Feb;25(1):128-142. doi: 10.3758/s13423-017-1230-y.


A sizeable literature exists on the use of frequentist power analysis in the null-hypothesis significance testing (NHST) paradigm to facilitate the design of informative experiments. In contrast, there is almost no literature that discusses the design of experiments when Bayes factors (BFs) are used as a measure of evidence. Here we explore Bayes Factor Design Analysis (BFDA) as a useful tool to design studies for maximum efficiency and informativeness. We elaborate on three possible BF designs, (a) a fixed-n design, (b) an open-ended Sequential Bayes Factor (SBF) design, where researchers can test after each participant and can stop data collection whenever there is strong evidence for either [Formula: see text] or [Formula: see text], and (c) a modified SBF design that defines a maximal sample size where data collection is stopped regardless of the current state of evidence. We demonstrate how the properties of each design (i.e., expected strength of evidence, expected sample size, expected probability of misleading evidence, expected probability of weak evidence) can be evaluated using Monte Carlo simulations and equip researchers with the necessary information to compute their own Bayesian design analyses.

Keywords: Bayes factor; Design analysis; Design planning; Power analysis; Sequential testing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bayes Theorem*
  • Data Collection
  • Humans
  • Probability
  • Research Design*
  • Sample Size