What's All The Noise? Differentiating Dimensions of Acustic Stress and The Limits to Meta-Analysis

Szalma, J.L., & Hancock, P.A. (2012). What’s all the noise? Differentiating dimensions of acoustic stress and the limits to meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 138(6), 1269-1273.

Smith (2012) has provided pertinent observations on our recently published meta-analytic review (Szalma & Hancock, 2011) of the effects of acoustic noise on performance. His main points are as follows: (a) our review excluded some areas of research; (b) there were conceptual problems with our moderator analyses; and (c) limitations to meta-analysis, in general, constrain the conclusions that can be drawn from our findings. In this response, we address these issues and, in so doing, account for Smith’s concerns and consequently identify useful avenues for future work. Thus, we argue that (a) most of the areas of research described by Smith were outside the explicitly specified and so-stated limits of our meta-analysis; (b) the conceptual problems in our meta-analysis are common to all research on stress and performance; and (c) the cited limitations of meta-analysis have been well established previously. We therefore remain unchanged in our opinion that meta-analysis is a powerful tool for quantifying the effects of variables on outcome measures across collective studies. Although acknowledging certain inherent procedural limitations, we nevertheless agree that a full comprehension of noise effects on performance has yet to be exhaustively articulated.

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