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Data Levels of Measurement

# Data Levels of Measurement

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08/03/2011

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Data Levels of Measurement
There are different
levels of measurement
that have been classified into four categories. It is importantfor the researcher to understand the different levels of measurement, as these levels of measurementplay a part in determining the arithmetic and the statistical operations that are carried out on the data.In ascending order of precision, the four different levels of measurement are:
nominal
ordinal
interval
ratioThe first level of measurement is
nominal measurement
. In this level of measurement, the numbers areused to classify the data. Also, in this level of measurement, words and letters can be used. Supposethere are data about people belonging to two different genders. In this case, the person belonging to thefemale gender could be classified as F, and the person belonging to the male gender could be classifiedas M. This type of assigning classification is nothing but the nominal level of measurement.The second level of measurement is the
ordinal level
of measurement. This level of measurement depicts some ordered relationship between the number of items. Suppose a student scoresthe maximum marks in the class. In this case, he would be assigned the first rank. Then, the personscoring the second highest marks would be assigned the second rank, and so on. This level of measurement signifies some specific reason behind the assignment. The ordinal level of measurementindicates an approximate ordering of the measurements. The researcher should note that in this typeof measurement, the difference or the ratio between any two types of rankings is not the same along thescale.The third level of measurement is the
interval level
of measurement. The interval level of measurementnot only classifies and orders the measurements, but it also specifies that the distances between eachinterval on the scale are equivalent along the scale from low interval to high interval. For example, aninterval level of measurement could be the measurement of anxiety in a student between the score of 10and 11, if this interval is the same as that of a student who is in between the score of 40 and 41. Apopular example of this level of measurement is temperature in centigrade, where, for example, thedistance between 94
0
C and 96
0
C is the same as the distance between 100
0
C and 102
0
C.The fourth level of measurement is the
ratio level
of measurement. In this level of measurement, themeasurements can have a value of zero as well, which makes this type of measurement unlike the other types of measurement, although the properties are similar to that of the interval level of measurement. Inthe ratio level of measurement, the divisions between the points on the scale have an equivalent distancebetween them, and the rankings assigned to the items are according to their size.The researcher should note that among these levels of measurement, the nominal level is simply used toclassify data, whereas the levels of measurement described by the interval level and the ratio level aremuch more exact.
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L
evel of measurement
The "
levels of measurement
", or
scales of measure
are expressions that typicallyrefer to the
theory of scale types
developed by the psychologistStanley SmithStevens. Stevens proposed his theory in a 1946
Science
article titled "On the theoryof scales of measurement".
[1]
In that article, Stevens claimed that allmeasurementinscience was conducted using four different types of scales that he called "nominal","ordinal", "interval" and "ratio".

Contents
[hide]

1
The theory of scale types
o

1.1
Nominal scale
o

1.2
Ordinal scale
o

1.3
Interval scale
o

1.4
Ratio measurement
2
Debate on classification scheme
3
Scale types and Stevens' "operational theory of measurement"
4
Notes
5
6
References
7

The theory of scale types
Stevens (1946, 1951) proposed that measurements can be classified into four different types of scales. These are shown in the table below as: nominal, ordinal,interval, and ratio.

nominal (alsodenoted ascategorical)
mode,Chi-square

One to One(equality(=))

standard setstructure(unordered)

ordinal
median,percentile

Monotonicincreasing(order(<))totally ordered

set
interval
mean,standarddeviation,correlation,regression,analysis of

variance Positive linear(affine)affine line
ratio
All statistics permitted for interval scales plus thefollowing:geometric mean,harmonic

mean,coefficient of variation,logarithms

Positivesimilarities(multiplication)

field
N
ominal scale
At the nominal scale, i.e., for anominal category, one uses labels; for example,rocks can be generally categorized asigneous,sedimentaryandmetamorphic. For  this scale, some valid operations areequivalenceandset membership. Nominal measures offer names or labels for certain characteristics.Variables assessed on a nominal scale are called
categorical variables;
seealsocategorical data.Stevens (1946, p. 679) must have known that claiming nominal scales to measureobviously non-quantitative things would have attracted criticism, so he invoked histheory of measurement to justify nominal scales as measurement:

the use of numerals as names for classes is an example of the assignment of numeralsaccording to rule
.
The rule is: Do not assign the same numeral to different classes ordifferent numerals to the same class
.
Beyond that, anything goes with the nominal scale
.

Thecentral tendencyof a nominal attribute is given by itsmode; neither  themeannor themediancan be defined.