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Annu. Rev. Anthropol. 1985.14:135-157. Downloaded from by Universidad de Chile on 08/29/12. For personal use only.

Michael Chibnik
Department of Anthropology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa 52242

INTRODUCTION Sociocultural anthropologists have never used statistics as much as their col­ leagues in other social sciences. When sociologists (92) , political scientists (33), and economists (98) were urging the increased use of statistics in their disciplines in the 1920s, Boas (7, p. 120) was asserting that the success of attempts to apply statistics to ethnographic phenomena was "more than doubt­ ful . " Kluckhohn (73, p. 350) wrote a decade later that the professional folklore included an a priori resistance to any use of statistics; and even as recently as the 1950s , Driver (28, p. 54) stated that anthropologists avoided mathematics and statistics "like the mother-in-law." Early statistical analyses, moreover , were largely restricted to cross-cultural comparisons (e.g. 29, 58, 90). Although quantitative data were sometimes collected in field work, analyses of such data rarely went beyond tabular presentations and calculations of means and me­ dians. In the 1950s and 1960s the use of mathematics in sociocultural anthropology increased dramatically (66; 123, pp. 2-5) and statistical analyses of field data became common. While new theoretical and methodological orientations in anthropology (see 62 , 91, 96, 97) obviously influenced this increased emphasis on quantification, the changing nature of field work was also important. Whereas most ethnographers in the earlier part of the century tried to provide holistic descriptions of many aspects of culture, by the 1950s research tended to be problem-oriented, emphasizing intensive examinations of particular topics. Since problem-oriented studies often involved the systematic collection of quantitative data, the need for statistical methods of description and inference became apparent. The statistics used in the 1950s and 1960s , however, tended to be rather simple bivariate tests of significance and measures of association rather than the multivariate methods increasingly employed by psychologists




and sociologists. Reviews of "mathematical anthropology" written at the end of this period

(12,59,66, 132) emphasized model building and abstract algebra

more than statistics. Kay (66, p. xvi) predicted that anthropologists in the future would use abstract algebra more than statistics and speculated that there would be a slight deemphasis on correlational methods and a great deemphasis on tests of significance. Kay's predictions have not been fulfilled. While algebraic modeling is still occasionally attempted (e.g.

3,126, 127), the most striking development in

mathematical and quantitative anthropology in the past decade has been the

Annu. Rev. Anthropol. 1985.14:135-157. Downloaded from by Universidad de Chile on 08/29/12. For personal use only.

increased use of multivariate statistical methods. Computer packages have allowed researchers with limited statistical expertise to use complex analytic methods such as multiple regression, path analysis, and multidimensional scaling. Furthermore, simpler bivariate statistics involving correlation mea­ sures and tests of significance are now routinely included in articles in North American journals and are not uncommon in publications elsewhere. The types of data collected by sociocultural anthropologists conducting field work frequently pose problems for statistical analyses. Samples are usually small, and causal connections between numerous possibly important variables are often complex. The extent of quantification that is possible for many important variables is limited. Anexcellent book on research methods a sensible although unfortunately error-riddled text

(97) and (123) discuss the use of

bivariate statistics despite these problems. However, no comprehensive discus­ sion of the use of multivariate statistics by anthropologists has yet been published. This review of the recent use of statistics by sociocultural anthropologists emphasizes multivariate methods. I begin by discussing

(a) how well the

assumptions behind statistical tests and measures--especially those concerning sampling, level of measurement, and distribution-apply to data commonly analyzed by anthropologists, and (b) the extent to which such tests and mea­ sures can be used when these assumptions are violated. I then discuss problems associated with bivariate analyses. The next and longest section of the essay is a description of some of the multivariate methods most frequently used in sociocultural anthropology. I attempt to characterize these methods in simple, nontechnical language and provide examples of the use of each method. I conclude with remarks about the likely future role of statistics in sociocultural anthropology. Space considerations preclude an exhaustive coverage of all the ways that sociocultural anthropologists have used statistics. For this reason I restrict my review for the most part to analyses of data collected within single field settings and do not examine problems associated with cross-cultural analyses. I also do not discuss the use of statistics in demography, nor do I treat other techniques either only occasionally used by sociocultural anthropologists (e.g. analysis of

For personal use only. Introductory texts on statistics and research methods in the social sciences ( by Universidad de Chile on 08/29/12. the essay is aimcd at the majority of sociocultural anthropologists. the measurement of variables. While this method obviously could not be applied everywhere and can be difficult to use. 439-40) discuss the special problems sociocultural anthropologists have in obtaining probability samples and the advantages and disadvantages of various sampling methods. Guttman scaling).annualreviews. Several books (e. they will be familiar with much of thc material and may regard the presentation as insufficiently critical of past statistical sins [for discussions of abuses of statistics in sociocultural anthropology and archaeology see (60. 54-59.g. however.g. Anthropol. 62. This essay is not aimed at the few statistically sophisticated sociocultural anthropologists. and the distribution of the data. 1985. Sampling Inferential statistics require probability samples. they have not sufficiently recognized the extent to which many assumptions underlying statistical tests can be relaxed. Johnson's (61) method of random visits to examine productive activities is worthy of special note. Field work conditions and the nature of the variables being examined. pp. Although anthropologists have sometimes been inge­ nious in devising techniques to overcome some of these difficulties. 5. 75. 97. where each member of the population has a known probability of being included in the sample. Of the techniques devised to overcome sampling problems. 123) characteristically contain statements about the perils of using tests and measures when these assumptions do not hold. Although such readers may find some of the citations useful. Rev. time series analysis) or those'superseded by newer methods (e. and cluster sampling. 62. Bolivian "peasants" (130). Downloaded from www. The tests and measures that comprise inferential statistics make assumptions about the nature of the sample. pp. 97. research­ ers making random visits have generated useful information about the work activities of commercial Swiss farmers remote Peruvian tribal groups (85). 127-40. who Annu. ASSUMPTIONS OF INFERENTIAL STATISTICS Inferential statistics are methods and procedures used to make generalizations about a population (universe) from a subset (sample) of the population. and (87). often prevent sociocultural anthropologists from using data that completely meet such assumptions. pp.14:135-157. other frequently used methods are systematic. The best known probabilistic sampling method is random sampling. . 123. know something about statistics but would like to know more about how they have been and should be used in analyzing data collected in field work.g. 124)]. stratified.STATISTICS IN SOCIOCULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY 137 variance. where each member has an equal probability of being selected. Instead.

ordinal scales . ordinal. For example. the Pearson correlation coefficient. Moreover.138 CHIBNIK Sociocultural anthropologists usually are inexplicit about what constitutes the popUlation (universe) from which their sample is drawn. More often. 441�4) . 19-24).annualreviews. Stevens (119) argued that only nonparametric statistics (those that make no assumptions about distributions of the data) could be used on nominal and ordinal data. Since distributions are often either nonnor­ mal or unknown. it is a hypothetical universe of all villages and interrelationships that could have existed under similar conditions (19..14:135-157. However. Parametric tests and measures such as the t-test. 5. by Universidad de Chile on 08/29/12. however. Rev. rank observations. 115). The relationship between measurement scale and statistics proposed by Stevens has been accepted by many social scientists and statisticians (e. 171-211). 122). pp. and multiple regression could be applied only to interval data. pp. and in recent years have sometimes been willing to use parametric techniques on mixed nominal. Stevens has been challenged on the rather abstract grounds that measurement theory and statistics are unrelated since "the numbers do not know where they come from. variables of interest to anthropologists are often nonnormally distributed. 62 . and the number of wives men have in African societies usually has a negative binomial distribution (118). various empirical studies have been interpreted as showing that using parametric statistics on ordinal data statisticians (77. Marriage distances are (22. and interval scales specify the numerical differences be­ tween ranked observations. researchers often use inferential statistics to examine interrelationships of variables in villages where every household has been censused. Parametric tests can often be used even when assumptions about distribu­ tions are not met. Downloaded from www. 366-67. sociocultural sometimes leptokurtic lognormal anthropologists frequently have little information concerning the shape of the distribution of a particular variable. pp. In many cases this population is hypothetical. Assumptions underlying statistical tests can be classified . 65. The implicit universe in such cases is sometimes a limited geographical area that includes the village. anthropologists make great use of nonparametric tests and measures such as chi-squares and Spearman correlations. does not always cause statistical problems Distributions Parametric statistical tests usually assume that the variables in the sample and the population are distributed normally. Anthropol. pp. 123. For personal use only. and interval data (see 18. Sociocultural anthropologists applying statistics seem generally unaware that Stevens's ideas have not been universally accepted. most wealth measures are (116) . In a famous article. Annu." (See 40 for a review of this literature. 83. 1985. Level of Measurement Observed phenomena can be classified according to their level of measurement (119) Nominal scales simply place observations into categories.) More importantly. by Universidad de Chile on 08/29/12. Downloaded from www. testing independence and measuring association. the less the interpretation of the results of the test must be altered when an assumption is not completely met. have the advantage of being easier to understand and present (97. When either parametric or nonparametric tests can be used. The assumptions of normality underlying many commonly used parametric tests are quite robust (139. and gamma. given sample data. The more robust an assumption is. Nonparametric tests. Such bivariate analyses often have two goals. Tests of Independence Cross-tabulations (contingency tables) of two variables are a staple feature of social science publications.26.56. An excellent example of this is an acrimonious debate concerning (among other things) whether or not societies with warfare are more likely to have a higher percentage of male children (presumably because of female infanticide) than those without warfare (25. 263-66). 1 restrict my discussion here to independence tests and measures of association for nominal level data. and frequencies (counts) are presented of the numbers in the sample under examination that fall into each possible cross-classification of categories.STATISTICS IN SOCIOCULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY 139 Annu.57). that in the population the two variables are independent. Tests of independence indicate the probability. high and low) and then used nonparametric tests and measures such as chi-square. Spearman. The selection of an appropriate test of independence and measure of associa­ tion is partially determined by the level of measurement of the data. 161-62). Sociocultural anthropologists very often use such data but are frequently unaware of certain fundamental analytic problems. Each variable is divided into two or more categor­ ies. Part of the argument hinges on whether or not data on sex ratios met the assumptions about distribu­ tions of the (parametric) t-test. Sociocultural anthropologists occasionally use complex parametric tests when they could make their point more easily with nonpara­ metric tests. For personal use only. pp. Rev. Anthropol. however. according to their robustness. Two variables are independent if a knowledge of the numerical value (or category in the case of nominal data) of one does not aid in the prediction of the value (or category) of the other. 1985. . BIVARIATE METHODS Most statistical analysis in sociocultural anthropology consists of descriptions of relationships between two variables. If two variables are not independent. they are said to be related. parametric tests are usually preferable because they are less wasteful of data. Measures of association describe the amount of relationship in the sample between the two variables.14:135-157. Much of the vituperous and arcane debate that took place in several issues of the American Anthropologist could have been avoided if someone had recoded the sex ratio data into categories (e.g . Although many of the issues I examine pertain to interval and ordinal statistics.annualreviews.

The reason for this is that any fixed significance level means something quite different for a large sample than for a small onc. 212-17 for lucid detailed discussions).annualreviews. Nevertheless two errors are so . pp. For personal use only.0 I level") that a res ult could have occurred There exists a vast literature on the use and abuse of significance tests (e. the two variables are likely to be related. of 19 articles in the American Ethnologist from 1974 to 1983 in which researchers used chi-square or Fisher tests on nominal data collected in the field. researchers often set no significance level in advance and report the probability (e. Fairly minor proportional differences between observed and expected frequencies will be significant for large samples and fairly large proportional differences will not be significant for small samples. 1985. an The single most common error made by social scientists making statistical alyses of nominal data is the combined overemphasis on independence tests and underemphasis on measures of association. 162-64. pp. but say little about the magnitude of such differences. " significant at the . however. by Universidad de Chile on 08/29/12.140 CHIBNIK Either the chi-square or (less often) the Fisher exact test is ordinarily used to test independence. pp. Observed frequencies ordinarily will not exactly match the expected frequenci es because of chance fluctuations. the researcher concludes that the variables are related in the population. Social scientists typically use chi-square and other statistical tests to calculate the level of . Rev. Downloaded from www. 162-63) usually recommend that a significance level be set prior to calculating the chi-square. chance t1uctuations. 123. 97. 19. Researchers making statistical tests examine data in attempts to reject a null hypothesis and accept an alternative hypothesis. observed frequencies differ enough from expected ones. Another pervasive mistake found in statistical analyses by anthropologists (and other social scientists) is an overemphasis on avoiding "Type I" error and an underemphasis on avoiding "Type II" error. by chance.14:135-157. 89). 459-68). while a Type II error is incorrectly rejecting the alternative hypothesis (see 19 and 123.g. Anthropol.g. The familiar chi-square test indicates the probability that differences between observed and expected frequencies in a sample could be the result of Annu. prevalent in the anthropological literature that they bear yet another mention here. Independence (significance) tests provide information about whether differences from chance exist. Books on research methods (e. If. A Type I error is incorrectly rejecting the null hypoth­ esis. If the probability of chance occurrence of differences between observed and expected frequencies in the sample is less than or equal to the significance level. 97. fairly simple calculations (see any intro­ ductory statistics text) provide the expected frequencies in each cell of a contingency table. If two variables are independent. and common mistakes are routinely pointed out in introductory texts (e. only 2 provided measures of association indicating the magnitude of differences between observed and expected frequen cies.g. In practice.g. Neverthe­ less.

p. the odds ratio (105. and reviewers almost never comment on Type II error. 105). pp.) As Siegel notes significance levels should reach some compromise that optimizes the balance between the probabilities of making Type I and Type II errors. Measures of Association Since anthropologists frequently calculate Pearson and Spearman correlations for interval or ordinal data. pp. Association measures can also be classified according to their statistical basis.STATISTICS IN SOCIOCULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY 141 significance. Association measures can be either symmetric or asymmetric. Anthropol. a mandatory or . Two tables with different marginal distributions will not produce the same numerical value of association even when they record the same underlying relationship. Some are based on the odds by Universidad de Chile on 08/29/12. 20-27). By insisting that results attain a certain level of significance (usually . The principal difficulty of most measures of association for contingency tables is that marginal distributions (row and column totals) affect their numer­ ical values. (38. Sociocultural anthropologists seem to make little effort to seek such a compromise. otherwise. Two . given the marginal (l05. 1985. MULTIVARIATE METHODS The holistic orientation characteristic of sociocultural anthropology often leads researchers to collect data systematically on many interrelated variables. Unfortunately. and still others on how well cross-classifications can be predicted (105. pp. Downloaded from www. For personal use only. symmetric measures are preferable. statistical test being used. researchers. distribution 83-102) and calculating the ratio of the numerical value to the maximum possible value. If theory or common sense suggests that one variable causes the other. pp.05). asymmetric mea­ sures should be used. the probability of being too conservative in interpreting results. the probability that a Type I error has been made.annualreviews. and the contingency coefficient (115. 18-19). 196--202) are examples of symmetric measures. 71-78). and tau ( lOS. others on chi-square. p. pp. Two common solutions to this problem are standardiz­ ing tables via an iterative procedure (4. researchers setting error will be high. 10). 14)] and various theoretical and methodological problems associated with their use (for 43-46.05 insures that the probability of Type II (115. phi-squared (123. journal editors and article reviewers insure that not many Type I errors are made. pp. 29-45). (The size of this probability depends on the "power" of the Annu. pp. Rev. For the small samples of recommended significance level of 2{}-60 cases characteristic of much field research. pp. Lambda measures. 41-45) are examples of asymmetric 419-23). editors. their reluctance to calculate measures of association for nominal data cannot be entirely attributed to their overemphasis on tests of significance. Another reason for their reluctance may be the plethora of association measures of nominal data ["literally dozens" details see (105.14:135-157.

Multivariate methods have been inappropriately or unneces­ sarily used. 112. and the results of even well-done published analyses can often be understood by only a small fraction of the readers. Rev. the possibility of similar problems is obvious. however. preten­ tious. Second. there are prob­ lems in describing the relationships between pairs of variables because of the confounding effects of other lurking variables. ) Since sociocultural anthropologists as a group are less knowledgeable about statistics than their colleagues in biological anthropology and archaeology . 24 1).org by Universidad de Chile on 08/29/12. elaboration . and residualization-to "control for" confounding variables when examining bivariate relationships (139. the nonexperimental nature of almost all sociocultural anthropological research generally rules out the use of this Annu. pp. Problems were noted that arose from both the complexity of multivariate methods and the relative lack of statistical expertise among most biological anthropologists and archaeologists. 150-78). incomprehensible. . Biological anthropologists and archaeologists have used multivariate tech­ niques more extensively and for a longer time than sociocultural anthropolog­ ists. simplification of data frequently is useful since numerous variables on which information has been collected seem to measure the same thing. and overly complicated analyses have frequently passed the not-so-critical scrutiny of journal and book referees and have been published. factor analysis. I have chosen not to do so here. First. For personal use only. Although it would be easy to compile a catalog of abuses of multivariate statistics by sociocultural anthropologists . The use of randomization is ordinari1y restricted to experimental research in which subjects can be assigned ran­ domly to different experimental treatments. Multiple regression and path analysis are the methods sociocultural anthropologists have most often used in their efforts to untangle interrelated variables. As a result inept.14:135-157. that multivariate techniques should be used only after simpler analytic methods have been fully investigated. (See 60. 124 for discussions of this issue . while cluster analysis (numeri­ cal taxonomy). 124) decrying the uncritical use of these methods. and multidimensional scaling are the most commonly used data-reduction techniques.annualreviews.142 CHIBNIK related difficulties hamper efforts to analyze such data. In both of these anthropological subfields articles appeared some years ago (74. p. Anthropol. Downloaded from www. Although randomization is com­ mon in medicine and psychology. The danger of using multivariate statistics to obfuscate rather than to clarify is ever present. 1985. Controlling f or Conf ounding Variables Statisticians have devised three basic methods-randomization. I do agree with Thomas (124. The recent availability of "canned" computer packages has enabled an increasing number of anthropologists and other social scientists to employ a variety of complex multivariate techniques to control for confounding or lurking variables and to reduce or simplify data.

g. Two techniques employing residualization frequently used by sociocultural anthropologists are multiple regression and path analysis. researchers can control statistically for the effects of several third variables by using "residualization" 039.STATISTICS IN SOCIOCULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY 143 Annu. Hirschfeld's (55) analysis of aesthetics among the San Bias Cuna of Panama = . . 153). for example. a researcher might wish to compare the relative importance of number of consumers . . that a researcher wishes to examine the relationship between number of household consumers and annual cash income in a multiethnic community . Multiple regression is a statistical technique that provides the linear equation of independent variables that best predicts the dependent variable. Elaboration. which has not often been used by anthropologists despite certain advantages.annualreviews. p. Anthropol. and there may not be enough observations in every table to allow reliable conclusions to be drawn. For personal use only. MULTIPLE REGRESSION Anthropologists commonly wish to analyze the relationship between a dependent variable and several independent (or predic­ tor) variables. where sample sizes are typically small. 15) and is the simplest and most straightforward way to control for the effects of specific confounding variables. For such standardized multiple regression equations of the form Y A +b1X1 +b2X2+ +bnXn (where Y is the dependent by Universidad de Chile on 08/29/12. method. the bis are called standardized regression coefficients. 1985. however. Downloaded from www. In situations where there are too many confounding variables and/or too few cases for elaboration to be used. The multiple correlation coefficient is a measure of the predictive accuracy of this equation . pp. The multiple regression equation is frequently calculated after all variables have been transformed so that each has a standard deviation of one. For example. The magnitude of any particular bi is a measure of the relative importance of Xi in predicting Y. Elaboration involves examining the association between two variables within separate categories of a third (and possibly confounding) variable. The number of tables required multiplies rapidly as the number of variables controlled for increases. . Suppose. This problem is especial­ ly important in sociocultural anthropology. Although elaboration makes possible perfect control of specific third vari­ ables. the re­ searcher can control for any confounding effects of ethnicity by examining the bivariate relationship separately for each ethnic group. Using elaboration. land holdings. is frequently used in sociocultural anthropolo­ gy (e. application of the technique to several third variables is difficult (139. A third technique. and ethnicity in predicting the annual cash income of a "peasant" household. Rev. A a constant. The researcher might also want to determine how well a household's annual cash income can be predicted from a knowledge of these variables. 154-78). involves the use of log-linear models. and the XiS independent variables).

One question Hirschfeld was interested in was the crit eria Cuna used to rank the aesthetic quality of mala designs. For personal use only. "deferred gratification orientation" among the Buganda (102). rarely emp . 1985. Although methods exist (18. 82.g. The dependent variable in Hirschfeld's analysis was the number of times a particular mola was chosen. The Cuna produce mo/as. Rev. place of residence.annualreviews.14:135-157. 41. Somewhat controversial economic analyses employing multiple r egress ion have also been made of the determinants of bride price in Nigeria (48) and the number of wives of Palestine men in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (95). Other sociocul tural applications have been diverse. Anthropologists (35. male bias in remembering kin among Belgrade factory workers (50). nominally. rectangular panels of reverse applique worn by women on the front and back of indigenously made blouses. 242-61). propensity to adopt innovations among Maine fishermen (1). 171-211).org by Universidad de Chile on 08/29/12. 135) to examine the determinants of various measures of economic productivity or wealth. Downloaded from www. Although mUltiple regression has conventionally been restricted to intervally measured variables. In such circumstances. sex) cannot be measured intervally. Sociocultural anthropologists have used mUltiple regression most often (35. pp. ethnicity. The expansion of multiple regression to include variables measured nominally and ordinally has greatly increased the technique'S appli­ cability in sociocultural anthropology. pp. is appropriate. where many variables of interest (e. should not be used if the dependent variable is measured Annu. an analytic method l oy ed by sociocultural anthropologists. Anthropol. Multiple regression assumes that the underlying relationships among vari­ ables are linear and additive. however. 100. pp. 291-337) to apply multiple regres­ sion in certain situations where relationships among variables are nonadditive. discriminant analysis. 99) have sometimes borrowed techniques from economists to make logarithmic transformation of variables that convert nonlinear relationships into linear ones (see also 18. Hirschfeld was able to generate a regression equation with a high multiple correlation coefficient. Multiple regression. including examination of the determinants of leadership among Mayas in Chiapas (125). in recent years statisticians have come to accept the use of the technique on ordinal and even nominal independent variables. He asked 20 women to view 34 color reproductions of molas and pick the three they liked best. and tradi­ tional beliefs about disease causation among "Rhodesian" students and teachers in training (86). 99. Most of the independent variables were various design features. He also presented standardized regression coefficients showing that "density" (a measure of complexity) and asymmetry predicted mola preference better than most color features analyzed. in which one or more dichoto­ mous variables (values at 0 or 1) are established for each nominal scale (see 18. This has been done through the use of dummy variables. 41.144 CHIBNIK illustrates well how multiple regression can be applied to anthropological questions.

67. 120.63. Several technical problems can arise when nonstatisticians attempt multiple regression analyses. However. For personal use only. The more strongly related the independent variables are.14:135-157. p. the less reliability can be placed on the relative importance indicated by the standardized regression coefficients (69. are not so and failing to find things that are. 33. 24. described as being of "almost revolutionary importance" (10). p. has been applied extensively. and the same assumptions about among some variables (see Path analysis has two major advantages when compared to multiple regres- linearity and additivity as multiple regression. Anthropologists and other social scientists often use the "shotgun approach. if somewhat indiscriminately (84). Downloaded from www. A paradoxical situation occurs. 51. certain constraints on the direction of hypothesized causal effects or paths (see 2. pp. Finally. 50-61). each of which can give different results. Cohen & Cohen (18. Substantive applications in sociocultural anthropology (23. The uncritical use of "stepwise regression. while and was introduced to sociologists by Boudon anthropologists by Haddon & DeWalt hardly routine.31. PATH ANALYSIS 102-4). Anthropol. pp. 340-41). .org by Universidad de Chile on 08/29/12. are not uncommon. \38). but X2 cannot affect XI' However." investigating a large number of independent variables in order to ensure that substantive issues are well covered and no important factors are overlooked. Rev." Another problem arises from multicollinearity.94. p. when some or all of the independent variables are highly intercorrelated. In such circumstances path analysis is more informative about relationships among variables than multiple regression. 52. path analysis has also commonly been carried out when there is noncausal (within the confines of the model) correla­ tion between certain variables (see some of the examples in 49) and occasional­ ly (although not in sociocultural anthropology) where there is mutual causality closure" (see 2. Social scientists examining the effects of several indepen­ dent variables on a dependent variable are often willing to make fairly specific assumptions about causality.annualreviews. This usually involves a series of weak causal orderings in which variable XI may or may not affect variable X2. has been cogently criticized (18." the method most often used by sociocultural anthropologists. there are sever­ al methods of multiple regression analysis.STATISTICS IN SOCIOCULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY 145 sociocultural anthropologists have generally assumed additivity even in situa­ tions where it might not be reasonable. pp. 160) note that "having more variables when fewer are possible increases the risks of both finding things that Annu. the greater the intercorrelation of independent variables is. Path analysis was developed over 60 years ago by the geneticist Sewall Wright (137) (8) and Duncan (30) and to (49). 385). Path analysis requires that the researcher create a model of explicit causal relations among the variables being considered. Within sociology the technique. the greater the need to control for confounding effects. 125). However. Path analysis assumes "causal 69. 1985.

A. 106). All three variables are indepen­ dent of one another. B. Second. p. illustrates the advantages size. A and B are related (not i ndepen dent). for example. p. 13) and critics suggested many articles were more exercises in data manipulation than examinations of substantive. family indirect effects of family size on l eadership via the intervening variables of wealth and number of friends. a situation in which a researcher wishes to examine the interrela­ tionships among three nominal variables.146 CHIBNIK sion (49. andC are all related to one another.14:135-157. was a more important determinant of leadership than was indicated by multiple regression. enthusiasm in the field became so great that one editor announced his journal would not accept "mindless" applications of the technique (114. Anthropol. number of friends. Mexico. Consider. can be decomposed" into three components (49. p. but are independent for other categories ofC (this is called an "interaction" effect). LOG-LINEAR MODELS Social scientists often confront great difficulties in analyzing contingency tables involving more than two variables. and 4. and number of friends were causally prior to leadership. 1985. A few of the several possible relationships that might exist are: I. but there are no interaction effects. For personal use only. 2. First. There are direct effects of X on Y. A bivariate correlation between variables X and Y (where X is causally prior to y). Thomas's ( 125) study of the sociocultural determinants of political lead­ ership in a Tojolabal community in Chiapas. A. but both are independent of C. for by Universidad de Chile on 08/29/12. 200). 112). . theoretically grounded models (84. path analysis allows systematic examination of the effects of intervening variables in a causal model. and C.annualreviews. Thomas not only was able to compare the direct effects of family size. He concluded that family size." Thomas assumed that wealth. Downloaded from www. Not long after path analysis was introduced to sociologists. and the joint effects arising either from unanalyzed " correlation or when a single causally prior variable Z exerts direct or indirect Annu. and wealth on leadership (as with multiple regression) but also could assess the of path analysis. B. p. Similar problems have not arisen in sociocultural anthropology. Thomas thought. Rev. where path analysis seems to be underused rather than overused. Using "action theory. indirect effects of X on Y via one or more intervening variables. effects on X and Y and thereby causes them to vary concomitantly. Using path analysis. that the multiple regression provided an incomplete picture of relationships among the variables because of the effects of family size and wealth on the number of friends a man had and the effects of family size on wealth. Employing stepwise multiple regression. A and B are related for some categories of C. followed by family size and number of friends. because of its substantial indirect causal effects via the intervening variables. 3. Thomas found that wealth was the most impor­ tant of the independent variables in predicting leadership. however. the technique forces a researcher to be more explicit about theoretical assumptions concerning causality.

Fleuret & Fleuret (36.p. 59). 1985. For example. The goal of this In the past two decades statisticians have made great progress in analyzing discrete multivariate data (see developed. Such reduction or simplification inevitably in­ volves the loss of information but has the great advantage of enabling research­ ers to more readily see what is in the data agebale proportions. especially when sample sizes are small (105. Multivariate descriptive statistics are most often used to reduce a data matrix. father's occupation. with logarithmic terms. medians. is said to "put the investigation of nominal data Annu. When only three variables are being analyzed. that accounts for the observed frequencies of cross-classifications.annualreviews. Although log-linear analysis has clear advantages and should be considered by sociocultural anthropologists analyzing numerous categorical variables. but not (controlling for the aforemen­ tioned effects) between son's occupation and caste. Anthropol. 34. Data Reduction The goal of descriptive statistics is to summarize data by substituting a few measures for many numbers.14:135-157. 57). Contingency tables used in elaboration. present. (5. a rectangular array of cells. 4).STATISTICS IN SOCIOCULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY 147 Although techniques such as analysis of variance and multiple regression have enabled statisticians to unravel possible confounding relationships for interval-level data. pp. Log-linear approaches are beginning t o b e used i n sociocultural anthropolo­ gy nominal variables. 4. Downloaded from www. and understand. by Universidad de Chile on 08/29/12. The results of a log-linear analysis allow a researcher to determine whether or not particular variables are independent of one another and whether or not interaction effects exist (for details see 4. One technique that has been (105. the technique is not easy for nonstatisticians to use. p. until recently the prevailing methods (involving elabora­ tion) for analyzing categorical data have not been satisfactory in situations where there are more than a few variables. and son's occupa­ tion for overseas Sikhs in Tanzania. They used log-linear methods to show that there are relationships between father's occupation and caste and between father's occupation and son's occupation. The rows of the matrix are cases (entities). 105. 53-56). Rev. 57-81). on a par with the study of interval-level variables" analytic method is to develop a linear equation. p. Means. in contrast. log-linear models. and standard deviations are familiar descriptive statistics that reduce data to man­ . pp. 88. can be understood by many anthropologists with little statistical background. simpler methods such as elaboration may be preferable to log-linear approaches. 121) to evaluate competing models of interrelationships among (36) were interested in the relationships among hereditary caste. 42. For personal use only. They can also be used (with some difficulty) to evaluate the comparative strength of various relationships (105. 105).

The cell values consist of nominal. but there are many other measures of similarity (proximity). Using the matrix of similarity indexes of each pair of cases. There is no consensus about which similarity indexes and clustering techniques are most appropriate in particular situations. and people under 18. Pearson correlation coefficients are commonly used when data are intervally measured. pp. These measures are then used to divide cases or variables into fairly homogenous groups. Cluster analysis is the technique most commonly used in sociocultural analysis is the method most often used to lump variables into groups. Researchers using multivariate data-reduction techniques generally begin by constructing measures of similarity between pairs of rows or columns. Downloaded from www. by Universidad de Chile on 08/29/12. When a cluster analysis is carried out. while factor been used on both cases and variables. people over 18. 9. a clustering technique is used to create groups of similar cases. ordinal. For a census. 28).annualreviews. a similarity index is chosen that summarizes multiple measures of differences between cases. One cell entry would be the number of females in a particular household censused. Biological anthropologists (e. Cluster-analytic techniques can be used on nominal. The con­ struction of nonintuitive typologies simplifies observations with a minimal loss of information and may contribute significantly to an understanding of the problem studied (79. and interval data and in situations where some attributes (variables) arc measured nominally while others are measured on ordinal and interval levels. Members of each group are similar to one another and dissimilar to members of other groups. Although cluster analysis was first used in sociocultural anthropology over 50 years ago (29). 281). Annu. 1985. o rdi nal . 3-4). primarily because of different ideas about what forms an "acceptable" classi­ fication (6. 54. These subgroups are frequently arranged hierarchically. or interval measurements for specific combinations of cases and variables.14:135-157. CLUSTER ANALYSIS The goal of cluster analysis (numerical taxonomy) is to subdivide a number of cases (or occasionally variables) into homogenous subgroups. characteristics) on which data have been collected for each case. For personal use only. has frequently anthropology to delineate groups of similar cases. Multidimensional visual representations ("maps") are sometimes also used to show the distances (amounts of dissimilarity) between all pairs of cases or variables. with four variables being the number of males. cases might be households. 93) rapidly began using the method after the publication of Sokal & Sneath's influential . the technique was not widely employed in any social science until the 1960s (6. Anthropol. p. Rev. Descriptive statistics are then used to measure the extent of intergroup and intragroup similarities and differences.148 CHIBNIK while the columns are variables (attributes.g. a method creating visual representations of distances. p. Multidimensional scaling.

and kerosene stoves.STATISTICS IN SOCIOCULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY 149 book ( 1 17) on the application of cluster analysis to biological taxonomy. He then isolated two clusters that secmed to correspond to an overall contrast of mission. no doubt because of their great interest in morphological typology.and government-related statuses and also isolated various subclusters (e.g. 1985. 53. have been psychologically and linguistically oriented. numerical taxonomy is so common in the field that it has been (unenthusiastically) referred to as a "highly visible bandwagon" ( 124. also were quick to adopt the technique. sociocultural anthropologists have only occasionally applied cluster analysis to their field by Universidad de Chile on 08/29/12. Rev. For personal use only. games in the Yucatan ( 129) and military pilot errors in the United States ( 108).g. Most applications (e. 104). 70. 124). 134). Downloaded from www. catechist and teacher) within the larger clusters. 236). The method has been used to isolate Navajo household economic types ( 136) and to classify Annu. a household economic survey in a peasant community might ask three separate questions about ownership of bicycles. Factor analysis was developed by the psychologist Spearman in an attempt to see how many dimensions underlie variables measured on so-called "intelligence tests. and interpretation of factor analysis (e. " There exists a well-developed. mathematically sophisti­ cated literature on the assumptions. Although some archaeologists do not like cluster analysis ( 16. 37. Researchers often suspect that some variables are redundant since they are measures of more or less the same thing or dimension.however. radios. The results of a cluster analysis can be difficult to interpret. White used the data to create a similarity index of status types. 17. .7 1. FACTOR ANALYSIS Anthropologists and other social scientists frequently collect information about many interrelated variables for a number of cases. For example.g. There is often no obvious label to put on the clusters of cases lumped together. 1 1 1). White asked 29 middle aged men about the - personality traits associated with 10 types of "Big Men. 128.27. Factor analysis is the technique social scientists most often use to reduce data redundancy. The ownership of any one of these items might correlate highly with ownership of the other two and reflect overall wealth.annualreviews. p. 80. White's study ( 134) of psychological char­ acteristics of status types on Santa Isabel in the Solomon Islands is a good example of this kind of application. priest and bishop. methodology. each informant selected 8 "appropriate" and 8 "inappropriate" attributes for each status type. Anthropol. In contrast to researchers in other subfields. Archaeologists (e. often using a clustering technique developed by a psychological anthropologist (20).14:135-157. " From a corpus of 37 terms and phrases commonly used to describe personal traits.g. These interpretive difficulties and the arbitrariness associated with choices of similarity indexes and clustering methods are the major nontechnical problems associated with the use of numerical taxonomy.

factor-analytic techniques reduce data to a smaller set of factors. There is no consensus about which of the many factor-analytic methods is most appropri­ ate. and the literature is full of statements such as "this factor . The results of factor analysis. The technique enables researchers to get some idea how much redundancy is in their data and to simplify statistical operations such as multiple regression by using factors instead of a myriad of confounding variables . Given an array of correlation coefficients for a set of variables (or occasionally cases). The results of analysis include a list of factors. Rev. 239) and "the third factor is difficult to define . For personal use only. 101. .org by Universidad de Chile on 08/29/12. 32. Furthermore. For instance. link(s) such strange bedfellows as travel and brutality" (32. . p. The labeling of factors is something of an art. moreover. Factor analysis is a brutally empirical technique. DeWalt was thus able to show via factor analysis that adoption strategies in the community were not what he had initially hypothesized. resulted in the identification of four factors (explaining 69% of the variance) rather than two. p. p. . 316) notes . 23. Several serious problems limit the usefulness of factor analysis . psychologists using different analytic techniques disagree sharply about the extent to which one factor (labeled "general intelligence") can explain the results of mental testing (47. used when a discipline Annu. 81. 107) . 52. That factor analysis is not based in theory may be one cause of its hard-to-interpret results . g . which may be taken as source variables accounting for observed interrelationships (68. DeWalt's examination (23) o f agricultural innovation in a peasant communi­ ty in Mexico illustrates the exploratory use of factor analysis .annualreviews. "the choice of factor analysis as method records the primitive state of knowledge in a field. p. Anthropol. and the per­ centage of total variance accounted for or resolved by each factor.14:135-157. innovations associated with com production were found in several factors. A factor analysis of innovations. are often difficult to interpret . 1985. the "loadings" (correlations) between each individual variable and each factor.g. p.150 CHIBNIK The fundamental assumption of factor analysis is that one or more under­ lying "factors" are rcsponsible for covariation among variables (71. Factor analysis has primarily been used in sociocultural anthropology to explore data (e. however. researchers often attempt to improve their understanding of the data by labeling (giving names to) factors . "Development agents" had been working to increase productivity of com and to change the region to a dairy economy. 234--320). 138) . pp . sowing forage crops and vaccination of animals) would also be adopted as a set. it seems to represent an alternate line to the classical gods of the Hindu pantheon" (107. As Gould (47. 469) . After examining the particular variables loading highly on the different factors. DeWalt therefore expected that innovations related to com production (the use of fertilizers and tractors) would be adopted as a unit and that other innovations related to livestock production (e .. 12) . and the results of the various methods differ. 86. as were innova­ tions associated with livestock. . 106. Downloaded from www. 102.

visual repre­ sentations are often made to aid researchers in their data interpretations. roles and statuses (11. is the multivariate data­ reduction method most often used in sociocultural anthropology.14:135-157. personality traits (13. Perfect correspondences between map distances at low dimensions and measurements of distances (proximities) are rare because of errors and noise in the data. but two relevant considerations are that the amount of stress should not be "too high" and that dimensions should not be added if they do not reduce stress much (76.STATISTICS IN SOCIOCULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY 151 has no firmly established principles. 72. sometimes in conjunction with hierarchical cluster analysis (e . Suppose. 134). pp. Rev. There are no fixed rules for selecting the number of dimensions. 131). One measurement of how well a particular configuration of points fits the data is the stress associated with the configuration . 109). 80. 110). This choice can be handled objectively via multiple regression. and so forth. 507-513) the substantive meaning of and interpretive problems associated with factors and dimensions are similar. Topics examined include disease terms (21. When maps have three or fewer dimensions. 14. Informant disagreement and error will likely result in a two-dimensional map that does not quite match either mean perceived or real distances. which will have more stress than the map of best fit in three dimensions .org by Universidad de Chile on 08/29/12. but only a mass of crude data. 20. One of the greatest attractions of multi­ dimensional scaling for sociocultural anthropologists is the possibility of using the technique where distances can be compared in magnitude but not given numerical value. for example. Anthropol. Once a map is created. 190-191. For personal use only. 133. Annu. 23-27) . The map of best fit in one dimension will have more stress than the map of best fit in two dimensions. . pp. Although multidimensional scaling can be applied to a variety of distance measures (see 76. but the interpretation of each dimension remains problematic . Downloaded from www. kin terms (78. the researcher must choose the axis for each dimen­ sion. Multidimensional methods have been developed for both metric (intervally measured) and nonmetric distances. that items are cities and proximities are averages of several informants' statements about the distances between pairs of cities. Although factor analysis and multidimensional scaling make different mathematical assumptions and yield different results (111. 1985. g . 39. " MULTIDIMENSIONAL SCALING The data used i n multidimensional scaling consist of a number of items (either cases or variables) and measurements of the distances between all pairs of items. 108.annualreviews. The goal of multidimensional scaling is to produce a map in which each item is represented by a point near the points of other similar items. sociocultural anthropologists have almost always used the technique to analyze informants' perceptions of similarities and differ­ ences. occupations. Multidimensional scaling. and a hope that patterns of correlation might provide suggestions for further and more fruitful lines of inquiry. 134).

The major advantage multidimensional scaling has over other methods of multivariate data reduction is the possibility of visual representation when there are three or fewer dimensions. The use of qualitative methods . and pilot errors ( 1 08). and they use sur­ veys as only one of many research tools in their efforts to gain in-depth holistic understandings of particular cultural processes. with better-known mathematical properties. and the application of multivariate methods is increasing rapidly. 1 1 2. Sociocultural anthropologists. For personal use only.annualreviews. with circles around groups identified with a cluster analysis . 226) . this advantage disappears and factor analysis. 32. ethnic groups ( 1 1 3) . and the availability of easily used computer packages all make it likely that sociocultural anthropologists will use statistics in the future more than they do now. Downloaded from www.14:135-157. p. p. 1985. She concludes from the position of terms on axes that one dimension represents a pleasant/unpleasant continuum while the other indicates ego's power or strength compared to other actors in an emotion­ eliciting situation. Pairs of words were given a similarity score according to how many times they were put into the same pile. Lutz's analysis (80) of emotion words on Ifaluk in Micronesia is a clearly presented recent use of multidimensional scaling. She asked 1 3 informants to sort 3 1 emotion words (identified as "about our insides") into piles of similar words. 1 24) suggest that multivariate applications will sometimes be incompetent and that researchers will occa­ sionally overemphasize methodology and underemphasize substantive impor­ tance. FUTURE DIRECTIONS The growing interest in intracultural variation (96) and systematic research design (62. rarely by Universidad de Chile on 08/29/12.g.g. The heavy reliance by psychologists on labora­ tory experiments and by many sociologists on mass surveys has necessitated extensive and sophisticated use of statistical methods in those fields . pottery types (63). Lutz provides a visual Annu. Rev. 1 2 1 ) . The eclectic methodology employed by sociocultural anthropologists makes it unlikely that they will ever use statistical methods as much as their colleagues in psychology and sociology . The use of bivariate statistical methods to analyze data collected in the field is already routine in North America. representation of her results (80.152 CHIBNIK 1 34). When analysis results in four or more important dimensions (e. Anthropol. however. if not elsewhere. The lack of statistical expertise of most sociocultural anthropologists and the experiences of other anthropological subfields (74. 2 1 . may be preferable. 72). 97) . 32. an increased demand for rigor by funding agencies and scholarly journals. 13. A multidimensional scaling of these scores gave a two-dimensional result with low stress. Attempts are sometimes made to compare the mental maps of various subgroups in the sample (e.

Am. 55-71 Burton. Nevertheless statistical methods are becoming increasingly important to sociocultural anthropologists. 109. Ethnol. pp. pp. W. ed. Topics such as religion. 1975. 1 14-20. A method of linear causal analysis: Dependence analysis.annualreviews. J. Res. analyses of quantitative data. Anthropol. 9:538-58 Asher. Am. 4. 1965. 1985. P. Am.. Calif: Sage Ballonoff. ed. ed. For personal use only. New York: McGraw-Hill. K . methods of numerical taxonomy with ref­ erence to homonoid classification. Semantic dimensions of occupational names. Multivar. including those most committed to the use of statistical methods (e. 7:86-105 Christenson. Lon­ don: Systematics Assoc. Anthropol. . 1 3:271-98 Boas. 6. 2:397-408 Chibnik. P. 12. Path analysis and ordinal data. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I thank Maeve Clark for research assistance and Chad McDaniel and June Helm for helpful comments on an earlier version of this paper. and more are likely to do so in the future. Causal Modeling. and Marxism make quite limited use of statistical analysis. and economic and political dependency are ordinarily not examined by statistical Annu. 5. Pap. 1975.14:135-157. Blashfield. McNeill. Downloaded from www. H. Boyce. Publ. Gol­ denweiser. A. . M. D. 1983. 9-12 . V. R-mode factor . See Ref. Fienberg. 7. Sage Univ. Am. 10. Ser. Quant. M. Literature Cited 1 . Anthropol. A. R. J. Heywood. Rev. 1964. 6 Boyle. 1 972. pp. Social Statistics. . 1978. Mathematical anthro­ pology. Aldenderfer. 3. In The Social Sciences and Their Interrelations. L. Am. structuralism . Rev. 14. Such requirements are reasonable since even sociocultur­ al anthropologists who do not use statistics in their own work need to know something about them to understand much important current research. Ogburn. W. Read. 8:841-73 Burton. Many anthropology departments already require graduate students to take an introductory statistics course. Sociol. Am. Beverly by Universidad de Chile on 08/29/12. Romney. Behav. 1 976. 15. Boston: Hough­ ton Mifflin Boudon. Moreover . The value of some 2. Appl. 13. law. Y. Mass: MIT Press Blalock. in Soc. Almost all sociocultural anthropologists. Am.g. 1973. Ethnol. Ann. J. . II. The literature on cluster analysis. Discrete Multivariate Analy­ sis. Sociol. 8. Ethnol. 1 970. 85:70-91 Bishop. 07-003 . 16. . 1977. Sci. M . Working out or work­ ing in: The choice between wage labor and cash cropping in rural Belize. 2:1 89-99 Burton. Numer­ ical taxonomy. Acheson.analysis . Kirk. 75:461-80 Burton. 2nd rev. 1982. Anthropology and statis­ tics. R. Reidman. 1980. J . Tech­ nical innovations in the New England fin­ fishing industry: An examination of the Downs and Mohr hypothesis. 1 927. M . R. F. regard qualitative data-analytic procedures as essential. K . Rev. S . Theory of lineage organizations. 1 979 . A multidimensional representation of role terms. 30:365-74 9. Cambridge. The diverse subject matter and theoretical breadth of sociocultural anthropol­ ogy also insure that statistical methods will continue to comprise only part of the set of many useful research tools. 97. Holland.. Anthropol. M . In Phenetic and Phylogenetic Classifica­ tion. Sex differ­ ences in Masai cognition of personality and social identity. M. 62 . H. R. pp. theoretical approaches such as sym­ bolism . 67-77). A.STATISTICS IN SOCIOCULTURAL ANTHROPOLOGY 153 of data analysis such as the presentation of detailed case studies and life histories is one way in which sociocultural anthropology is distinct from other social sciences. 1979. A.

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