Most oxytocin administration studies are statistically underpowered to reliably detect (or reject) a wide range of effect sizes


The neuropeptide oxytocin has attracted substantial research interest for its role in behaviour and cognition; however, the evidence for its effects have been mixed. Meta-analysis is viewed as the gold-standard for synthesizing evidence, but the evidential value of a meta-analysis is dependent on the evidential value of the studies it synthesizes, and the analytical approaches used to derive conclusions. To assess the evidential value of oxytocin administration meta-analyses, this study calculated the statistical power of 107 studies from 35 meta-analyses and assessed the statistical equivalence of reported results. The mean statistical power across all studies was 12.2% and there has been no noticeable improvement in power over an eight-year period. None of the 26 non-significant meta-analyses were statistically equivalent, assuming a smallest effect size of interest of 0.1. Altogether, most oxytocin treatment study designs are statistically underpowered to either detect or reject a wide range of effect sizes that scholars may find worthwhile.