At what sample size do correlations stabilize?

Abstract

Sample correlations converge to the population value with increasing sample size, but the estimates are often inaccurate in small samples. In this report we use Monte-Carlo simulations to determine the critical sample size from which on the magnitude of a correlation can be expected to be stable. The necessary sample size to achieve stable estimates for correlations depends on the effect size, the width of the corridor of stability, and the requested confidence that the trajectory does not leave this corridor any more. Results indicate that in typical scenarios the sample size should approach 250 for stable estimates.

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