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The Role of

Statistics in Research
Scnles or MTRSUREMENT
Nominal Scale

Ordinal Scale
lnterval Scale
Ratio Scale

lmportance of Scales of Measurement


Tvprs or SrnrrsrrcAl Trcurureues
Describing the Data
Averages
Measures of Dispersion
Measures of Relationships

Comparing Groups
Sut"tmnRy

Statistics are the tools researchers use to organize and summarize


their data. If you collect memory test scores from 100 participants, you
have 100 numbers. Little useful information can be gleaned from 100 individual numbers; they need to be organ:;ed. It might be useful to know
what the highest and lowest scores are (the range), what the most common score is (the mode), or what the middle score is (the median). Certain
statistical tests can help determine if one group of participants scored significantly better on a test than another. The terrn "significantly" means
that the difference is of such a magnitude that it is unlikely to have
occurred by chance alone.
Statistics are used to make generalizations from a sample to an entire

population. A population is all of the individuals to whom a research


63

('lt.t1rl1'1' l;,,,,,

Pr()icct is nrcant ttl1;enerar lize. Apopulation


ci.rn Lre us l.rr1laclly clcfirccJ
of the people in the world,
as all
Jr
living
organisnrr; ,r. ih" population
can be more narrowly
"":l-1il

defined-all_18- ,22?yiur-olds
or a'orin" psychor_
ogy majors at a particular
schSgl. Typically,'u ."r"urcher
the members of a target
cannot test a1 of
populatior-,. irrt"uj, itl
a smalr percentage of
population-a ru*pl" tf'th.
that
members-can te tested
il; sample is
the entire populatio.,

il":iil:::fr:r."'''.

the wom"r.,_fr"_tor

r.r,he"-ii*ffi

,o ,hu, if we identify a characteris_


example, that tn" mur.,
lr-, the sample are taller
than

'riff

,f.;r[:Hit;TJHrJH**r*Ti*,*'*ji;

be that a char'acteristic
of our sampre
u" g;eralized to the popuration.
Let's assume that a ."r"ur.hu,
nur-.oii".r"a

*"

a memory experiment,
and the mnemonic (memo.,
,::l-llry") ;rr* performs bltt".
control group. perh-1ps the
than the
purucrpants in the
averase or 18 out or zo
*o.ir, undthe .."r.i#iilr'Jlit3:J:"-"r"#1.l
16 out of 20 v'ords. At
this foi;;
nor yer supporred the
alternative hypothesis thatinr,"-o.i.
instructions lead to bette
performance, even though
ts i, greater ,n"" 16. The ."r"urJnt"T::l
know that the

,h;;#"inu,

s,ample

of"purii.ipants in the

i?1il"#*:y#r,f,."::::,:.,'m[:lnthe.il;';:ilT;ff :]lJ?ff;
JJ:"#:ft :nft ::'i:T,",i,"Jffi ::.'ff#*[.
:Iffi

JTfi*'f*ff

This chapter offers a nontechnical


introduction to some statistical
concepts' The purpose
is to familiariz yr" *iin
some of the terms and
orgu'iri'g and anaryzins d;;;
,iu,irr,.ully
ii:X'JT*,'l
so that you wiu
vour studies, t";#,tTiils;if, ,T:";:'lutt'u' r'o, encounter as part of

ScaTES oF T{easUREMENT

,"r"jl.iltllltlt' satisfactory work depends o1 u-sing the right toots. rn


appropri",",."ir?ll, l?ffiXt"j-T Tt statistical to;l; ,r,1"-r, the most
ue'+**""o*.ln"ffi i,:r'Tii,"JH:,*i;Ji[il'iff

nigue is to identify the typ"

if

oata bein g analyzed.


In psychorogy, researchers
assume that anything

3ff

t|3t"'ff

',l,r::fi*i{j

that exists_be it

;i:T,Tl':::,.,iJ,'"r"*r.,"rgr.,,;;:p,yihorogi.urconstruct,

ff trT*"ffi :'JJ:T*:,'il,",'J::T'1fr'"il.;'il,:H,il""H;:li;
rgsr) n",i"f r''w happy
measurement. It entails il;:l,.T:itr" ::J" H if,'iJ:: ry;i::
identifying a

.r,uru.i".itic, your happiness,


quantifying the amount or
and
huppin"r, yo.r- u." experiencing.
The rules

\.

'l'lrt' ltolt'ol'Stirtistics ilr

l{t.st..ll'r'll

b5

Ltst'cl in this example are that the number you assign to yotrr hirp1rir11.**
lnust be between l and 10, where l refers to a lack of happiness alrtl l0
rcferrs to an abundance of happiness.

Not all measurement systems are equivalent. Some measurements


can be mathematically manipulated-for instance, by adding a constant
or by taking the square root of each number-but still keep its primary
characteristics. Other systems are very intolerant of any mathematical
manipulation; adding a constant or taking the square root renders the
data meaningless. Measurement systems can be assigned to one of four
scales of measurement that vary by the level of mathematical manipulation they can tolerate. These four scales of measurement (also called levels of measurement) are the nominal, ordinal, interval, and ratio scales.

Nominal Scale
The nominal scale of measurement merely classifies objects or individuals as belonging to different categories. The order of the categories is
arbitrary and unimportant. Thus, participants might be categorized as
male or female, and the male category may be assigned the number 1 and
the female category assigned the number 2. These numbers say nothing
about the importance of one category as compared to the other. The numbers could just as well be 17.35 and29.46. Other examples of nominal
scales of measurement are numbers on basketball players' jerseys or the
numbers assigned by the Department of Motor Vehicles to the license
plates of cars. Numbers, when used in a nominal scale of measurement,
serve as'labels only', and provide no information on the magnitude or
amount of the charatteristic being measured.

Ordinal Scale
An ordinal scale differs from a nominal scale in that the order of the
categories is important. A grading system with the grades A, B, C, D, and
F is an ordinal scale. The order of the categories reflects a decrease in the
amount of the stuff being measured-in this case, knowledge. Note, however, that the distance between the categories is not necessarily equal.
Thus, the difference between one A and one B is not necessarily the same
as the difference between another A and another B. Similarly, the difference between any A and B is not necessarily the same as the difference
betweenaBandaC.
'Rank-order dataiis also measured on an ordinal scale. An observer
may rank-order participants according to attractiveness or a researcher
ask tasters to rank-order a number of crackers according to saltiness.
-rnay
iWhen your eyesight is tested and you are asked to choose which of twtl
lenses results in a clearer image,you are being asked to provide ordinirlf
,data. Again, when data are rank-ordered, a statement is beirrg r)I.)tlt',
about th{magnitude or amount of the characteristic being m('asurt'tl)l',rrr-'
the intervals between units need not be equivalent. If sevcn pt'o1rlt'.rrt.

(r(r

( lt,tlrlt'r. l,orrr.
I

t''tllk-.rtlert'c-l tll't attractivencss,


the clifference

tlrt'first;rtrcl seconcl person is not necessarily i. attr..rcti\,(,.(,ss [rt,lr.vt,t,.


t5e sarn.. .s the c.litit,rt,rrct,
Lr.tween the second a'd the third.
The firsf and sec'ncl pcrsons may
b.t6
be very attractive,
yjrh- only the smalr"rt iilr"rence between them,
wrrirc
the third person might be ,.rbstuntially
less attractive than the
seconc,.

Interual Scale
The interval scale of measurement
is characterized

by equal units of
measurement throughout the scale.
Thus, measurements made with
an
interval scale provide information
about loth the order and the relative
quantity of the characteristic being ..,"ur.r.J.
r,r"..ral scales of measurement, however, do not have a true
zero value. A true zero means
that
none of the characteristic being
measu."d l".r,uins. Temperature
measurements in degrees Fahrenh.eit
or in d"gr"", Celsius (also called centigrade) correspond to interval scales.
ThE dlrtu.,." between degrees
is
equal over the full length of the
scale; the difference between
20" and

40o
is the same as that betri'een 40o
and 60". In.,"i,n". scale, however,
is
there
a true zero; zero simply represents
another tg".u.rr"
on the ,.u1", and nega_
tive numbers are potribl" and. meaningfJ point
there is no true zero
on these scales, it is inappropriate
to sa'y tnui+0. is twice as warm
as 20o.
;'In other words, ratios .ir,.roi be compuied with
intervar scale data.)
' There is a controversy among psychological
researchers regarding
interval and ordinal scaler i., ,"luJion"to
,atfig.
suppose
that a partici_
pant is asked to rate something
on a scare -itn pi.ti..,tu,
points,
such as 1 to 7 or 0 to 5. For exanipre,
u p"rro., might be asked ".a
the
folrow_
ing rating question:

How satisfied are you with your friendships?

very

2
3
4
dissatisfied

6'7

10

very satisfied

The end numbers usuaily have


labels, but the middre numbers
sometimes
do not' The controversy arises
as to whether the ratings should
be consid-

ered ordinal data or interval data.


what nu, ,r"rr"r been ascertained is
whether the scales that peopre use
in their heads have units oi
,rr".
If the gnits are equal it-t tir", the data
"qrrut
could be regarded as interval
data;
if
the;z are .r.,"qrur, the data should
u" ,"gurd"Jas ordinal data. This is
a
point of contention because interval
dala often permit the use of more
powbrful statistics than do ordinal data.
There is stilr no consensus about
the nature of rating scale data.
In
some research areas, ratings tend
to be t."uteJ cautiously and are
consiclered ordinal data. In otheiareas-such
as langrug" and memory studies,
where participants may be asked
to rate ho--fu-iliar a phrase is
or how
strong their feeling of knowing
is-ratings t"r,J to be treatecr as interval
data' The particuJai philosophi
or any paiti..,to,l are;r of study
best ascertained from prerriorrsresearch
J is p.ssiblv.
in that

area.

lrt' liolr' ol sl,ttistit's itl l{t'st',tt't

lt

b7

Ratio Scale
I'lrr, ratio scale of measurement provides information about tlrder; all
rrrrits,rrt,of cqLri-ll size throughoutthe scale, and there is a true zero verlue
tlr.rt ru'1-rrescr-rts an atbsence of the characteristic being measured. The true
z(,1'() itll1lws rrttios of values to be formed. Thus, a person who is S0-yearsoltl is tr,r,icc as olcl as a person who is 25. Age in years is a ratio scale. Each
vt'ar rcpresents the same amount of time no matter where it occurs on the
scalc; tlre year between 20 and 27 years of age is the same amount of time
.rs the verlr between 54 and 55.

As you may have noticed, the scales of measurement can be arranged


Siersrchically from nominal to ratio. Staring with the ordinal scale, each
scale includes all the capabilities of the preceding scale plus something
r1ew. Thus, nominal scales are simply categorical, while ordinal scales are
categorical with the addition of ordering of the categories. Interval scales
of measurement involve ordered categories of equal size; in other words,
the intervals between numbers on the scale are equivalent throughout the
scale. Ratio scales also have equal intervals but, in addition, begin at a
true zero score that represents an absence of the characteristic being measured and allows for the computation of ratios.

Importance of Scales of Measurement


The statistical techniques that are appropriate for one scale of measurement may not be appropriate for another. Therefore, the researcher
must be able to identify the scale of measurement being used, so that
appropriate statistical techniques can be applied. Sometimes, the inapproof a technique is subtle; at other times, it can be quite obvipiiut"t
-ous-and
"ts quite embarrassing to a researcher who lets an inappropriate
statistic slip by. For example, imagine that ten people are rank-ordered
according 1o height. In addition, information about the individuals'
weight in pounds and age in years is recorded. When instructing the comput& to ialculate arithmetic averages, the researcher absentmindedly
includes the height rankings along with the other variables. The computer calculates that the average age of the participants is 22.6,years, that

urr"ruge weight of the group is 155.6 pounds, and that the average
height is 5'5". Calculating an average of ordinal data, such as the height
,u.,kirrgr in this example, will yield little useful information. Meaningful
results will only be obtained by using the statistical technique appropriate to the data's scale of measurement.

ih"

On what scale of measurement would each of the following data be


measured?

I'lrt' l{olt' ol Stiltistit's itt l{t'st"ll't

('lt,tIrlt't' l].ttl'
a. The number of dollars in one's wallet.
b. The rated sweetness of a can of soda.
c. Whether one responds yes or no to a question.
d. Height measured in inches.
e. The gender of individuals.
*"wmeasulef
n"1:l:

I:

': "rnl T*i:T:11

TYpes oF SrarrsrrcAr- TEcHNTeUES


Having recognized the type of data collected, the researcher needs
also to consider the question that he or she wants to answer. You can't
tighten a screw with a hammer, and you can't answer one research question with a statistical test meant for a different question.
Let's consider three questions that a researcher might ask:
1. How can I describe the data?
2. To what degree are these two variables related to each other?
3. Do the participants in this group have different scores than the
participants in the other group?
These three questions require the use of different types of statistical techniques. The scale of measurement on which the data were collected determines more specifically which statistical tool to use.

DescribinS the Data


When a researcher begins organizing a set of data, it can be very useful to determine typical characteristics of the different variables. The statistical techniques used for this task are aptly called descriptive statistics.
Usually, researchers use two types of descriptive statistics: a description
of the average score and a description of how spread out or close together
the data lie.

Averages
Perhaps the most commonly discussed characteristic of a data set is its
average. However, there are three different averages that can be calculated: the mode, the median, and the mean. Each provides somewhat dif-

ferent information. The scale of measurement on which the data are


collected will, in part, determine which average is most appropriate to use.
Let's'consider a researcher who has collected data on people's weight
measured in pounds; hair color categortzed according to 10 shades ranging from light to dark; and eye color labeled as blue, green, brown, or
other. This researcher has measured data on three different scales of measurement: ratio, ordinal, and nominal, respectively. When describing the

ll

(r(l

tlillt't't'trl
researcher will neecl t(l Ltst'it
t,yt,col0rs Of thc participa,.-t,r,.:h"
weight'
participants' average
statistic tharn whe|r a"r..iUing the
.f. describe the eye colo* of ih" p*ti.ipunts, tie researcher w.ttltl
freas the score that occurs most
use thc mode. The mode is defined
would
brown
had brown eyes,
quently. Thus, if most of the purai.ipunts
data will have two scores that
of
set
a
be the modal eye color. somelimes
to be
tn tnut case, the distribution is said
tie for occurring most frequentlf
tied for occurring most frequently'
bimodal. If three or more scores are
the distribution is said to be multimodal'
scale of meanui, color. is measured. on an ordinal
In our
are
".;;i;;
that the ten shades of hair color
surement, since we have no evidence

equallydistantfromeachother'Todescribeaveragehaircolor,the
or perhaps bgth'
the median'
researcher could use the mode'

pointin.a'al"'::^11:s, the point


The median is defined as the middle
The median is especially useful
below which 50% of the scores fall'
because

of other scores in
it pro.lt"rltr-,ror.r,ation about the distribution hair categorv' then

the eighth darkest


hai h.air in categories 8 to 10' and
we know that half of the participants

the set)If ,h"

*":;;[ffi;;i;;;"t

thattheotherhalfoftheparticipantshadhair'incategoriesltoS.
to describe the participants' average
Finally, orrr."r"urcher will'want

weight.Theresearchercouldusethemodeorthemedianhere,orthe
mean is the arithmetic average
researche,,,r";;;h ro.rr" the mean. The
in
is calculated by adding uP the scores
of the scores in a distribution;-it
the number oj scores'
the distribution and dividing by'*or1-commonly
tIP:. of average, in
The mean is probuury tn.
"-r".1It is difficult to write
very manipuiablef
part because it islmathematically
but it is
calculate the mode or median'
to
how
a formula that describes
the
dividing
and
adding a set of scores
not difficult to write a formula for
embedded
be
can
the mean
by the number of scores. Because oflhis,
sum

within other formulas'

its limitations' scores that are inordiThe mean d.oes, however, have
are given as much weight as every
nately large or small (called outliers)
which will
ahi, can aflect the mean score'
other score in the distributiorr,
For
and deflated if the outlier is small'
be inflated if the outlier i, turg"
mean
The
scores rs 82' 88' 84' 86' and 20'
example, suppose a set-of "*.u'i
in the
scores
people
four of the five
".u1lud
of these ,.or"i ts T2,although
20, deflated the mean'
gOs. The inordinately small score, the outliet
using means' Nevwhen
iot ini' ptoblem
Researchers need to watch o.ri

ertheless,themeanisstillaverypopularaverage'Themeancanbeused
witlr
scales."It is sometimes used
with data measured on intervur u.,a ratio
witlr
usccl
be
scales), but it cannot
numerical ordinal data (suc;;r;;;G
on a nominal scale'
rank-order data or d'ata measured
ways of describirrg tlre .tr,t't.ltgt'
The mode, median, and mean ale
tenu'" often tutt"d measures of central
score among a set of data' rn"f

'/lt

('lr,r1rl1,1. l,'orrr.

clclrcy [rt't'ilttst'tht'y tt'lttl


t. c.lescribc thc sc()r.s ilr tlrt,[rritlr.ll..f
brtir.)(alth.rrgh the m'de
tlrt,tiistrinot be in the midcirt,,at
ar).
";;

A researcher observes cars rrfArinc r^.t


rec o rds th e ge n d e r
of th e
: ir, ffi.f
r

;G:fi

j#

".:

il' ;:
:l' :f, J l.1
type of car (Ford, chevroret yrazda,ua.j,
,
the speed at which the"car
drives through the rot (measured
"na
with a ,radargun
in mph).
a. For each type of data measured,
what wourd be an appropriate
age to carcurate (mode,
aver_
median, and/or
b' one driver travered through
the
higher than any other
1r'u.*
by this one score?

mean)?

parking rot at a speed 20


mph
.fp'" or average would be
most

wh;;

lO.cted

Another.,:p^*"* .n*?:::,:11.

which the{scores are crose


", ;"
to the.avi*r"

describe this

chara.t"rlrii. u"r" .ut"a

,", :; *- ,, ;" ,";."" ;,


;." spread outf statistics that

--"";;s of dispersion.
Measures of Dispersion
Although they can be used
with nominal and ordin aI
of dispersion are uged p.i-urity
data,measures
with r"i"r""i or ratio data.
"-"ur.r."";i;rrp"rsion
The most straightiorward
is the range. The
ffil?#::;r",T.H:,:r"?,;::re varues r;J;,"s in a discrete data set or
tinu ous dis trlb u ti on. In
u d ir..:? :J::"1,
:
: ::i:l
sible' such as the numu"r
;:1.
rr times J r"-ote offfwomen
pregnant; as they say, you
have been
."":t_b::
isn't' In a contirr.ro* distribution
either is or
set, lt*""oinant--she
fractionstf scores are possibre, she
such
peopre i" u-'u*pre; ror
,h" ;;;;"
is very
d bv subtracting the r';;;;.ore
tn" nigh",;
rrom

**rl

"f":

ffii:,l|'fi-?:t

,;;;

;;;J:lt#r#il-

lrt' Itolt' oI

St.t t ist

it's itt ltt'sr.,r

rt'lr

'l'lrt'rarrge tt'lls lts ovcr lrow rri.lny scores thc data arc sprearcl, btrt it titrcs
not give Lts any information about how the scores are distributed over the
range. lt is limited because it relies on only two scores from the entire distriL'rtrtion. But it does provide us with some useful information about the spread
of the scores and it is appropriate for use with ordinal, interval, and ratio data.
A more commonly used measure of dispersion is the standard deviation. The standard deviation may be thought of as expressing the average
distance that the scores in a set of data fall from the mean. For example,
imagine that the mean score on an exam was74.If the class all performed
about the same, the scores might range from 67 to 81; this set of data
would have a relatively small standard deviation, and the average distance from the mean of 74 would be fairly small. On the other hand, if the
members of the class performed less consistently-if some did very well,
but others did quite poorly, perhaps with scores ranging from 47 to 100the standard deviation would be quite large; the average distance from
the mean of 74 would be fairly big.
The standard deviation and its counterpart, the variance (the standard deviation squared), are probably the most commonly used measures
of dispersion. They are used individually and also are embedded within
other more complex formulas. To calculate a standard deviation or variance, you need to know the mean. Because we typically calculate a mean
with data measured on interval or ratio scales, standard deviation and
variance are not appropriate for use with nominal data.

Learning to calculate standard deviation and variance is not necessary for the purposes of this book (although it is presented in appendix
A). The underlying concept-the notion of how spread out or clustered
the data are-is important, however, especially in research where two or
more groups of data are being compared. This issue will be discussed a
little later in the chapter.

;ill.n

Range = Highest _ Lowest


+1

we add" 1 so that the range


will include both the highest
value and the

?il,"::;tff *i:i*t**:*ffi ;ffi;"#"Lno rr iio,''.u, 72s, 776,


202_110+1=98

Ifl;fple

of scores covers 98 pounds


from the lightest to the heaviest

The weather report includes information about the normal temperature for the day. Suppose that today the temperature is l0 degrees above
normal. To determine if today is a very strange day or not especially

to know the standard deviation. lf we learn that the standard deviation is l5 degrees, what might we conclude about how normal
or abnormal the weather is today? lf the standard deviation is 5 degrees,
what d":.
about today's w3af3r?
strange, we need

:h1: :yBest

Measures of Relationships
Often a researcher will want to know more than the averttgr' .rrrr1
degree of dispersion for different variables. Sometimes, the reseirrclrcr'

7?

w.rrrts to leirrrr how nruch two variables are rcl;rtet1 to orrt..lnotht'r. lrr tlris
cilse, thc rcsearrcher would want to calculate a correlation. A crlrrclrrtion is
ir measure of the degree of relationship between two variables. For exam-

if we collected data on the number of hours students studied for a


midterm exam and the grades received on that exam, a correlation could
be calculated between the hours studied and the midterm grade. We
might find that those with higher midterm grades tended to study more
hours, while those with lower midterm grades tended to study for fewer
hours. This is described as a positive correlation. With a positive correlation, an increase in one variable is accompanied by an increase in the
other variable. With a negative correlation, by contrast, an increase in one
variable is accompanied by u decrease in the other variable. A possible
negative correlation might occur between the number of hours spent
watching television the night before an exam and the scores on the exam.
As the number of hours of viewing increase, the exam scores decrease.
A mathematical formula is used to calculate a correlation coefficient,
and the resulting number will be somewhere between -1.00 and +1.00.
The closer the number is to either +1.00 or -1.00, the stronger the relationship between the variables is. The closer the number is to 0.00, the
weaker the correlation is. Thus, +.85 represents a relatively strong positive correlation, but +.03 represents a weak positive correlation. Similarly,
-.9L represents a strong negative correlation, but -.12 represents a relatively weak negative correlation. The strength of the relationship is represented by the absolute value of the correlation coefficient. The direction of
the relationship is represented by the sign of the correlation coefficient.
Therefore, -.91. represents a stronger corcelation than does +.85.
A particular type of graph called a scattergram is used to demonstrate the relationship between two variables. The two variables (typically
called the x and the y variables) are plotted on the same graph. The r variable is plotted along the horizontal x-axis, and the y variable is plotted
along the vertical y-axis. Figure 4.1 is a scattergram of the hypothetical
data for number of hours studied and midterm exam scores.
Each point on figure 4.1 represents the two scores for each person. To
calculate a correlation there must be pairs of scores generated by one set
of participants, not two separate sets of scores generated by separate sets
of participants. Notice that the points tend to form a pattern from the
lower left corner to the upper right corner. This lower left to upper right
pattern is hn indication of a positive correlation. For a negatiue correlation,
the points show a pattern from the top left corner to the bottom right corner. Furthermore, the more closely the points fall along a straight line, the
stronger the correlation between the two variables. Figure 4.2 presents
several scattergrams representing positive and negative correlations of
various strengths.
Several types of correlations can be calculated. The two most common are Pearson's product-moment correlation (more often called Pearple,

Ilrt' l{olt'ol Statistics irr ltt'st"ll't'lt

( 'lt,tPlct' lrotrt'
Sttl],S r,) arrcl

73

Grcc,k synrbtll
which the Corresponding
Spcarrmirn,S rlrtl (ftlr
being correlated are mea-

,';;';;"J when tn."i*o tariables


both variables are meascales. when one or
*,io
,.
()n
interv.i
strrccl
if the variables are rank-ordered'
scale,
()n
an
can be calcusured
"rp"".lu[y
'rdinal
Oi^.i correlation coefficients
;;p-p;iu,".
an
,t,o.i,
Spearma,.,,,
variable is measured on

is 7,). l,c.rrs.r.,s

for example, one


lated for situatrorrr"lun"r-r,

Figure

4.1

and numbers

exam scores
q"i:t of midterm
the exam

of'hou" spent studying for

l6
t)

!oo
>\.

;E
oi
O!,

-0c
c0)
)uD

30 45 50

t>

Midterm exam score

Figure 4.2

Scattergrams rePresenting
strengths and directions

(a) Strong Positive

torrel ations of different


cor

(b) Strong negatrve

(d) Weak negative

(c) Weak Positive

(e) No correlation

('lt,tpl1'1. l,'prrl.

76

Table

4.1

Some Appropriate statistics


for Different

Scales of Measurement

,,..r.ilrrJl

Scales of Measurement

Statistical
Technique

Nominal

l. Averages

Ordinal

lnterval

mode

mode, median

Ratio

mode, median,

mode, median,

2. Measures of
dispersion
3. Correlations

eQhi)

Spearman's

coefficient
4. Single group
compared to
population

5. Two separate
grouPs

72 Goodness-- 72 cooanessof-Fit

72 Tolb

of-Fit

x2 Tol

mean

mean

range, s.d.,"
variance

range, s.d.,
variance

Pearson's r

Pearson's r

z-test, single_

z-test,

sample

single_

sample

Wilcoxon's

Wilcoxon's

rank-sum,

rank-sum,

72 Tol
5. Three or more
grouPs

72 Tol

7. One group

72 Tol

72 Tol, independent-samples t

ANOVA,

ANOVA,

Kruskal-Wallis

Kruskal-Wallis

Mann-Whitney
U, dependent-

tested twice
a

Standard

77 turt of independence

a"ui".ioi---

samples

Mann-Whitney
U, dependentsamples t

SurvuvlARy
Researchers use statistics
to herp them test their
hypotheses. often, sta_
tistics are used to generalize
the rer,rlt, from u ,umpt"
to a larger population.
\Mhich type oi statisticar
t".t",r-,iq.r" i, .rrJ d"p"r,d,
on ttre scale of mea_
suremn! on which the
data ur" .br".t"d. D;;;
measured on a nominal
scale are classified in
different lategories. order
is not important for nomi_
nal data, but it is for autu
mear.*"a
o;;;;
scale of measurement.
data mehsured on an interval
The
",.
scale "" ,.,;uJ;rl"",
are also ordered but, in
addition, the units of measutu."r-,,.*"
"f equal
throughout the scale. The
scale of measurement
ratio
is much like the *d;;i;.Ilu,
true zero, which indicates
that it includes a
"r,."pt
of the construct
being measured.
The scale of measu.u-"-ilor
";;;;-ount
the
data anJthe questioriueing
by the researcher determi"u
asked
*^ut
when describin g dut?,.d;;.tp*e statistical technique should be used.
statistics are used. These
ages and measures
include aver_

of disperri"".

Irt' liolt' ol St.ttistics itr lit'st',tt'r

lt

77

'l'hcrc irrc thrce ways tcl mcasure an averagc: thc moclr', tltt'rttt'tli,rrr,
ancl thc mean. The mode is the most frequent score; the mediartr is tltt't'r'tt
tral scclre; and the mean is the arithmetic average of the data set.
Measures of dispersion provide information about how clusterecj
together or spread out the data are in a distribution. The range describes
the number of score values the data are spread across. The variance and
standard deviation provide information about the average distance the
scores fall from the mean.

A researcher might also ask if two variables are related to each other.
This question is answered by calculating a correlation coefficient. The correlation coefficient is a number between -1.00 and +1.00. The closer the
coefficient is to either -1.00 or +1.00, the stronger the correlation is. The
negative and positive signs indicate whether the variables are changing
in the same direction (a positive correlation) or in opposite directions (a
negative correlation).
Finally, a researcher may wish to compare sets of scores in order to
determine if an independent variable had an effect on a dependent variable. A number of statistical techniques can be used to look for this difference. The appropriate technique depends on a number of factors, such as
the number of groups being compared and the scale of measurement on
which the data were collected.
If data at the ratio or interval level were collected, the statistical techniques that look for differences between groups have the same underlying logic. A difference between groups is considered to exist when the
variation among the scores between the groups is considerably greater
than the variation among the scores ruithin the group.
When data are measured on ordinal or nominal scales, other statistical techniques can be used; these tend to be less powerful than those used
for data on ratio and interval scales, though.
Statistical techniques are necessary to test research hypotheses once
data have been collected. Knowledge of this field is essential for research
psychologists.

IvrponrANT TEnvrs AND CoNcnprs


analysis of variance (ANOVA) median
mode
between-groups variance

multimodal
negative correlation
nominal scale
nonparametric tests
ordinal scale
outliers

bimodal
correlation
descriptive statistics
error variance
interval scale
mean
measurement
measures of central

parameter

tendency

measures of dispersion

parametric tests
population

7tl

('lr,rpl1,1.;;.,,,,
I

l)( )si

ti

v('

t'or-r.r,la t iorr

standard cleviatiorr

raltgc

f-test
variance

ratio scale
sample
scattergram

within-group variance

ExpncrsEs

of variables corresponding to
each of the scales of

::""ri1"L*t"ples
,:^I;?Xr;^er measures height in

' ^

b' rf a researcher

inches, what averages


might be

measures height by assignrlq


pgople to the categories
wnlt
"";.;;;;might be calculated?

short' medium, and tall,

3' a' If a researcher measrr"?


y^"tgnt in pounds, what measures of dis_
persion could be calculated?

in ounces, what measures of


disper_

Ifj"'::ff;.i:i:i:1,#J"Tr-"isht

c' If a researcher measures weight

ji.1,'.tliy;ffj'.Xil,"T,
4. Which correlation is stron

"

ger:

by assigning each person to


either
wh a t * u,,,", or d i sp _
"?
er
"
:

;id;;;:

_.g7or +.55?

positive and a negative correlation?


Provide an exampre other
than the one in the chapter.
6' A researcher studying the
effect of a speed-reading
course on reading
times compares the s'cores
of a grorf'rh; has taken the
course with
those of a control group'
The resear.h". finds that
the ratio of the variation between the groups
to the variation
the group is equal to
2'76' A colleag'" do", a
simila*trly-u.a-irt,i'
rir-,a,
a ratio of between_
groups variatiol to within-group
variation of 7.32.which ratio
likely to suggest a signifi.uit
is more
aiir"rence between reading
groups?

ANswERs To CorucEpT
euESTroNs AND
Oon-NuMB ERED ExERCriEs
Note: There w'l often be more
than one correct answer for
these questions. Consurt
each
-ith yo,rr instructor about your own answers. of
Concept euestion 4.1
a. ratio
b. ordinal or interval
c. nominal
d. ratio
e. nominal
ordinal

f.

5' what is the difference between


a

lrc

ltolt'ol Sl.ttistir's itt ltt'st',tt't'lt

7q

Concept Question 4.2


a. Irc>r gender, the mode; for the number in the car, the median trtrcl/or
mode; for the type of car, the mode; for the speed, the mean, mediatt,

and/or mode.
b. The mean.
Concept Question 4.3
If the standard deviation is 15, a day that is 10 degrees above the normal temperature is not an unusually warm day; however, if the standard
deviation is 5, a day that is 10 degrees above the normal temperature is
twice the average distance from the mean (roughly), and thus is an
unusually warm day.
Exercises

1. Nominal: license plate numbers, eye color. Ordinal: ordered preference


for five types of cookies, class rank. Interval: degrees Fahrenheit,
money in your checking account (assuming you can overdraw). Ratio:
loudness in decibels, miles per gallon. There are of course any number
of other correct answers.
3. a. range, standard deviation, and variance
b. range, standard deviation, and variance

c. range
5. A positive correlation describes a relationship in which two variables
change together in the same direction. For example, if the number of
violent crimes increases as crowding increases, that would be a positive correlation. A negative correlation describes a relationship in
which two variables change together in opposite directions. For
instance, if weight gained increases as the amount of exercise
decreases, that would be a negative correlation.