What are the 3 main types of descriptive statistics?
The 3 main types of descriptive statistics concern the frequency distribution, central tendency, and variability of a dataset.
The 3 main types of descriptive statistics concern the frequency distribution, central tendency, and variability of a dataset.
Variability tells you how far apart points lie from each other and from the center of a distribution or a data set.
Variability is also referred to as spread, scatter or dispersion.
For example, temperature in Celsius or Fahrenheit is at an interval scale because zero is not the lowest possible temperature. In the Kelvin scale, a ratio scale, zero represents a total lack of thermal energy.
A critical value is the value of the test statistic which defines the upper and lower bounds of a confidence interval, or which defines the threshold of statistical significance in a statistical test. It describes how far from the mean of the distribution you have to go to cover a certain amount of the total variation in the data (i.e. 90%, 95%, 99%).
If you are constructing a 95% confidence interval and are using a threshold of statistical significance of p = 0.05, then your critical value will be identical in both cases.
The t-distribution gives more probability to observations in the tails of the distribution than the standard normal distribution (a.k.a. the z-distribution).
In this way, the t-distribution is more conservative than the standard normal distribution: to reach the same level of confidence or statistical significance, you will need to include a wider range of the data.
A t-score (a.k.a. a t-value) is equivalent to the number of standard deviations away from the mean of the t-distribution.
The t-distribution is a way of describing a set of observations where most observations fall close to the mean, and the rest of the observations make up the tails on either side. It is a type of normal distribution used for smaller sample sizes, where the variance in the data is unknown.
The t-distribution forms a bell curve when plotted on a graph. It can be described mathematically using the mean and the standard deviation.
Ordinal data has two characteristics:
However, unlike with interval data, the distances between the categories are uneven or unknown.
If your confidence interval for a difference between groups includes zero, that means that if you run your experiment again you have a good chance of finding no difference between groups.
If your confidence interval for a correlation or regression includes zero, that means that if you run your experiment again there is a good chance of finding no correlation in your data.
In both of these cases, you will also find a high p-value when you run your statistical test, meaning that your results could have occurred under the null hypothesis of no relationship between variables or no difference between groups.
If you want to calculate a confidence interval around the mean of data that is not normally distributed, you have two choices:
The standard normal distribution, also known as the z-distribution, is a special case of the normal distribution where the variance is always the same:
So, if you wanted to make a 99.7% confidence interval and your data follows a standard normal distribution, you would use a Z* of 3.
These scores are used in statistical tests to show how far from the mean of the predicted distribution your statistical estimate is. If your test produces a z-score of 2.5, this means that your estimate is 2.5 standard deviations from the predicted mean.
The predicted mean and distribution of your estimate are generated by the null hypothesis of the statistical test you are using. The more standard deviations away from the predicted mean your estimate is, the less likely it is that the estimate could have occurred under the null hypothesis.
To calculate the confidence interval, you need to know:
Then you can plug these components into the confidence interval formula that corresponds to your data. The formula depends on the type of estimate (e.g. a mean or a proportion) and on the distribution of your data.
The confidence level is the percentage of times you expect to get close to the same estimate if you run your experiment again or resample the population in the same way.
The confidence interval is the actual upper and lower bounds of the estimate you expect to find at a given level of confidence.
For example, if you are estimating a 95% confidence interval around the mean proportion of female babies born every year based on a random sample of babies, you might find an upper bound of 0.56 and a lower bound of 0.48. These are the upper and lower bounds of the confidence interval. The confidence level is 95%.
This means that 95% of the time, you can expect your estimate to fall between 0.56 and 0.48.
The arithmetic mean is the most commonly used mean. It’s often simply called the mean or the average. But there are some other types of means you can calculate depending on your research purposes:
The median is the most informative measure of central tendency for skewed distributions or distributions with outliers. For example, the median is often used as a measure of central tendency for income distributions, which are generally highly skewed.
Because the median only uses one or two values, it’s unaffected by extreme outliers or non-symmetric distributions of scores. In contrast, the mean and mode can vary in skewed distributions.
A data set can often have no mode, one mode or more than one mode – it all depends on how many different values repeat most frequently.
Your data can be:
To find the mode:
Then you simply need to identify the most frequently occurring value.
The two most common methods for calculating interquartile range are the exclusive and inclusive methods.
The exclusive method excludes the median when identifying Q1 and Q3, while the inclusive method includes the median as a value in the data set in identifying the quartiles.
For each of these methods, you’ll need different procedures for finding the median, Q1 and Q3 depending on whether your sample size is even- or odd-numbered. The exclusive method works best for even-numbered sample sizes, while the inclusive method is often used with odd-numbered sample sizes.
Nominal data is data that can be labelled or classified into mutually exclusive categories within a variable. These categories cannot be ordered in a meaningful way.
For example, for the nominal variable of preferred mode of transportation, you may have the categories of car, bus, train, tram or bicycle.
Homoscedasticity, or homogeneity of variances, is an assumption of equal or similar variances in different groups being compared.
This is an important assumption of parametric statistical tests because they are sensitive to any dissimilarities. Uneven variances in samples result in biased and skewed test results.
Although the units of variance are harder to intuitively understand, variance is important in statistical tests.
The empirical rule, or the 68-95-99.7 rule, tells you where most of the values lie in a normal distribution:
The empirical rule is a quick way to get an overview of your data and check for any outliers or extreme values that don’t follow this pattern.
In a normal distribution, data is symmetrically distributed with no skew. Most values cluster around a central region, with values tapering off as they go further away from the center.
The measures of central tendency (mean, mode and median) are exactly the same in a normal distribution.
In normal distributions, a high standard deviation means that values are generally far from the mean, while a low standard deviation indicates that values are clustered close to the mean.
No. Because the range formula subtracts the lowest number from the highest number, the range is always zero or a positive number.
Simple linear regression is a regression model that estimates the relationship between one independent variable and one dependent variable using a straight line. Both variables should be quantitative.
For example, the relationship between temperature and the expansion of mercury in a thermometer can be modeled using a straight line: as temperature increases, the mercury expands. This linear relationship is so certain that we can use mercury thermometers to measure temperature.
In statistics, a model is the collection of one or more independent variables and their predicted interactions that researchers use to try to explain variation in their dependent variable.
The Akaike information criterion is calculated from the maximum log-likelihood of the model and the number of parameters (K) used to reach that likelihood. The AIC function is 2K – 2(log-likelihood).
Lower AIC values indicate a better-fit model, and a model with a delta-AIC (the difference between the two AIC values being compared) of more than -2 is considered significantly better than the model it is being compared to.
The Akaike information criterion is a mathematical test used to evaluate how well a model fits the data it is meant to describe. It penalizes models which use more independent variables (parameters) as a way to avoid over-fitting.
AIC is most often used to compare the relative goodness-of-fit among different models under consideration and to then choose the model that best fits the data.
Some examples of factorial ANOVAs include:
In ANOVA, the null hypothesis is that there is no difference among group means. If any group differs significantly from the overall group mean, then the ANOVA will report a statistically significant result.
Significant differences among group means are calculated using the F statistic, which is the ratio of the mean sum of squares (the variance explained by the independent variable) to the mean square error (the variance left over).
If the F statistic is higher than the critical value (the value of F that corresponds with your alpha value, usually 0.05), then the difference among groups is deemed statistically significant.
The only difference between one-way and two-way ANOVA is the number of independent variables. A one-way ANOVA has one independent variable, while a two-way ANOVA has two.
All ANOVAs are designed to test for differences among three or more groups. If you are only testing for a difference between two groups, use a t-test instead.
Multiple linear regression is a regression model that estimates the relationship between a quantitative dependent variable and two or more independent variables using a straight line.
Linear regression most often uses mean-square error (MSE) to calculate the error of the model. MSE is calculated by:
Linear regression fits a line to the data by finding the regression coefficient that results in the smallest MSE.
In statistics, model selection is a process researchers use to compare the relative value of different statistical models and determine which one is the best fit for the observed data.
The Akaike information criterion is one of the most common methods of model selection. AIC weights the ability of the model to predict the observed data against the number of parameters the model requires to reach that level of precision.
AIC model selection can help researchers find a model that explains the observed variation in their data while avoiding overfitting.
A regression model is a statistical model that estimates the relationship between one dependent variable and one or more independent variables using a line (or a plane in the case of two or more independent variables).
A regression model can be used when the dependent variable is quantitative, except in the case of logistic regression, where the dependent variable is binary.
A t-test should not be used to measure differences among more than two groups, because the error structure for a t-test will underestimate the actual error when many groups are being compared.
A one-sample t-test is used to compare a single population to a standard value (for example, to determine whether the average lifespan of a specific town is different from the country average).
A paired t-test is used to compare a single population before and after some experimental intervention or at two different points in time (for example, measuring student performance on a test before and after being taught the material).
A t-test measures the difference in group means divided by the pooled standard error of the two group means.
In this way, it calculates a number (the t-value) illustrating the magnitude of the difference between the two group means being compared, and estimates the likelihood that this difference exists purely by chance (p-value).
Your choice of t-test depends on whether you are studying one group or two groups, and whether you care about the direction of the difference in group means.
If you are studying one group, use a paired t-test to compare the group mean over time or after an intervention, or use a one-sample t-test to compare the group mean to a standard value. If you are studying two groups, use a two-sample t-test.
If you want to know only whether a difference exists, use a two-tailed test. If you want to know if one group mean is greater or less than the other, use a left-tailed or right-tailed one-tailed test.
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.
A test statistic is a number calculated by a statistical test. It describes how far your observed data is from the null hypothesis of no relationship between variables or no difference among sample groups.
The test statistic tells you how different two or more groups are from the overall population mean, or how different a linear slope is from the slope predicted by a null hypothesis. Different test statistics are used in different statistical tests.
P-values are calculated from the null distribution of the test statistic. They tell you how often a test statistic is expected to occur under the null hypothesis of the statistical test, based on where it falls in the null distribution.
If the test statistic is far from the mean of the null distribution, then the p-value will be small, showing that the test statistic is not likely to have occurred under the null hypothesis.
For data from skewed distributions, the median is better than the mean because it isn’t influenced by extremely large values.
The measures of central tendency you can use depends on the level of measurement of your data.
Measures of central tendency help you find the middle, or the average, of a data set.
The 3 most common measures of central tendency are the mean, median and mode.
Some variables have fixed levels. For example, gender and ethnicity are always nominal level data because they cannot be ranked.
However, for other variables, you can choose the level of measurement. For example, income is a variable that can be recorded on an ordinal or a ratio scale:
If you have a choice, the ratio level is always preferable because you can analyze data in more ways. The higher the level of measurement, the more precise your data is.
Levels of measurement tell you how precisely variables are recorded. There are 4 levels of measurement, which can be ranked from low to high:
No. The p-value only tells you how likely the data you have observed is to have occurred under the null hypothesis.
If the p-value is below your threshold of significance (typically p < 0.05), then you can reject the null hypothesis, but this does not necessarily mean that your alternative hypothesis is true.
The alpha value, or the threshold for statistical significance, is arbitrary – which value you use depends on your field of study.
In most cases, researchers use an alpha of 0.05, which means that there is a less than 5% chance that the data being tested could have occurred under the null hypothesis.
Statistical tests commonly assume that:
If your data does not meet these assumptions you might still be able to use a nonparametric statistical test, which have fewer requirements but also make weaker inferences.
The test statistic you use will be determined by the statistical test.
You can choose the right statistical test by looking at what type of data you have collected and what type of relationship you want to test.
The test statistic will change based on the number of observations in your data, how variable your observations are, and how strong the underlying patterns in the data are.
For example, if one data set has higher variability while another has lower variability, the first data set will produce a test statistic closer to the null hypothesis, even if the true correlation between two variables is the same in either data set.
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