Thanks TrueTears for the helpful links, and alondouek for the informative explanation! I've got a general idea of what they are now :) These seem more maths related? What math subjects do P values come up in?
In psychology, it does relate to these concepts, but only briefly. I think it's more so to do with the chances of a particular situation occurring and whether the results can be generalised to the wider population.
You're welcome! p-values are found in statistics; simply put (for the purposes of VCE psych), they're used to determine if a given claim/statement (a hypothesis) is likely to be correct.
You'll have learned in psych (I think) about taking sample measurements, and then using statistics to infer characteristics about the population from which we derive those samples, based on the samples themselves. p-values (as a part of hypothesis testing) are used to test the validity of our generalising sample statistics (which we get from the data we collect) to population parameters (i.e. what is really happening on a large, population scale).
P-values and hypothesis testing have a huge foundation of very complicated mathematics (which TT could tell you more about, it's one of his areas of specialty), but you don't need to know much of this foundation to apply these statistical techniques and understand the results you get from them.
To give you a more Psych related answer, you will be expected to know that a p-value of <.05 means that it is statistically significant. What <.05 means is that less than 5 experiments out of 100 would have occured to chance (so 95% of the time, it was the independent variable that correlated with the results and the results didn't happen by chance).
Watch out for multi-choice answers that say ">.05, <.5". That says greater than 5 in 100 trials, and less than 50 of 100 trials, respectively.
In a short answer question, "what does a p value of <.0x mean?" You just need to write "This p-value means that in this experiment x amount of times the results could have occurred due to chance". (Usually it will be <0.05, but they will sometimes change the number, which is why I used 'x'... Moreover, some studies will say "for this the be statistically significant, we want a p-value of <0.01 (1 trail due to chance out of 100).
This means that the lower value of the p-value, the better.
*Just skimmed alon's and TT's, sorry for any repetition (or any incorrect information; I wouldn't put it past VCAA to make the requirements of the course something different to how it is in reality).
I've had a few epidemiology lectures so i think i'm barely qualified to chime in (still wont stop me!).
Basically the P values tells you the probability that your result is just by sheer chance and not a cause/effect thing in terms of what you're looking at.
Let's say i get a bunch of people to do a rain dance and look at the results. It rains 3 days out of the 7 they do the rain dance. What is the probability the raining is caused by their little dance and simply not just by it happening to rain anyway? Let's say we get a P value of 0.90 . In terms of science, thats pretty abysmally high. It usually rains 2.8 days on average in a week (just made that up). It rained 3 days a week when we did our intervention. That's not much more than you'd expect by chance, so, its 90% likely that this result was just down to chance.
Let's take another example (a real one). Mirtazapine reduces depression significantly more than other drugs at 2 weeks. It could just be down to variability/chance that people taking mirtazapine got better faster. How do we decide whether it is or isn't? We look at the P value, in this case it was P < 0.00001. This means there is less than a 0.001% chance that this effect is simply due to chance, that is absolutely tiny, we can be almost (but not entirely!, this delves more into philosophy/stats though) certain that this drug does indeed work faster.
I'm sure you can imagine it in terms of all kinds of things. Say the P value that smoking causes lung cancer, would you expect this to be high or low? The P value of wearing red and being late to work, high or low? What degree does A cause B here compared to how much its just down to chance?