Posterior predictive p-values and the convex order

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)


Posterior predictive p-values are a common approach to Bayesian model-checking. This article analyses their frequency behaviour, that is, their distribution when the parameters and the data are drawn from the prior and the model respectively. We show that the family of possible distributions is exactly described as the distributions that are less variable than uniform on [0,1], in the convex order. In general, p-values with such a property are not conservative, and we illustrate how the theoretical worst-case error rate for false rejection can occur in practice. We describe how to correct the p-values to recover conservatism in several common scenarios, for example, when interpreting a single p-value or when combining multiple p-values into an overall score of significance. We also handle the case where the p-value is estimated from posterior samples obtained from techniques such as Markov Chain or Sequential Monte Carlo. Our results place posterior predictive p-values in a much clearer theoretical framework, allowing them to be used with more assurance.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberarXiv:1412.3442
Early online date29 Mar 2015
Publication statusPublished - 29 Apr 2015

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