What is statistical significance?

Statistical significance is a term used by researchers to state that it is unlikely their observations could have occurred under the null hypothesis of a statistical test. Significance is usually denoted by a p-value, or probability value.

Statistical significance is arbitrary – it depends on the threshold, or alpha value, chosen by the researcher. The most common threshold is p < 0.05, which means that the data is likely to occur less than 5% of the time under the null hypothesis.

When the p-value falls below the chosen alpha value, then we say the result of the test is statistically significant.