The power of a statistical test is the probability that the test will reject the null hypothesis when the null hypothesis is false (i.e. the probability of not committing a Type II error, or making a false negative decision). The power is in general a function of the possible distributions, often determined by a parameter, under the alternative hypothesis. As the power increases, the chances of a Type II error occurring decrease. The probability of a Type II error occurring is referred to as the false negative rate (β). Therefore power is equal to 1 − β, which is also known as the sensitivity.
Power analysis can be used to calculate the minimum sample size required so that one can be reasonably likely to detect an effect of a given size. Power analysis can also be used to calculate the minimum effect size that is likely to be detected in a study using a given sample size. In addition, the concept of power is used to make comparisons between different statistical testing procedures: for example, between a parametric and a nonparametric test of the same hypothesis.
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“A physicians physiology has much the same relation to his power of healing as a clerics divinity has to his power of influencing conduct.”
—Samuel Butler (18351902)