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# Chapter 2

CHAPTER 2: FREQUENCY
DISTRIBUTIONS
• The job of descriptive statistics is to simplify the organization and presentation
of data.

FREQUENCY DISTRIBUTIONS

## • A frequency distribution is an organized tabulation of the number of individuals

located at each category on the scale of measurement
• A frequency distribution can be constructed either as a table or as a graph, but
in either case the distribution presents the same two elements:
1. The set of categories that make up the original measurement scale.
2. A record of the frequency, or number of individuals n each category.

Example 2.1
X
f
∑X
∑f = N
∑X = ∑fX

## PROPORTIONS AND PERCENTAGES

• Proportion measures the fraction of the total group that is associated with each
score

Proportion = p = f / N

• Because proportions describe the frequency (f) in relation to the total number
(N), they are often called relative frequencies.
• Proportions more commonly expressed as decimals
• Percentages = The proportion multiplied by 100.

## GROUPED FREQUENCY DISTRIBUTION TABLES

• When a set of data covers a wide range of values, construct a grouped
frequency table.
• Present groups of scores rather than individual values
• The groups, or intervals, are called class intervals

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## Number of rows = Highest score – Lowest score + 1

• Rule 1 – The grouped frequency distribution table should have about 10 class
intervals…ultimately will depend on the number and range of scores

• Rule 2 – The width of each interval should be a relatively simple number, e.g., 2,
5, 10, 20

• Rule 3 – The bottom score in each class interval should be a multiple of the width

## • Rule 4 – All intervals should be the same width

• Grouped tables result in the loss of information about the specific value for any
individual score

## FREQUENCY DISTRIBUTION GRAPHS

• X-axis – Horizontal – abscissa
• Y-axis – Vertical – ordinate
• Y-axis is approximately two-thirds to three-quarters the length of the X-axis

## • Histograms and modified histograms

• Numerical scores (the categories of measurement) on the X-axis
• The frequencies for the categories on the Y-axis

## • Polygons (Drawn as a line graph)

• X- and Y-axes as with histograms
• Dots representing frequencies joined by a straight line
• Draw lines to zero at each end of the range of scores
• Use midpoint of class intervals as X-axis values when graphing grouped data →
(Highest score + Lowest score) / 2

## GRAPHS FOR NOMINAL AND ORDINAL DATA

• Bar graphs → Same as histogram except that there are spaces between the

## • Relative frequencies → Bar graph

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• Numerical scores from an interval or ratio scale → Smooth curve to indicate
relative changes that occur from one score to the next
• Normal curve → “Normal” refers to a specific shape that can be precisely defined
by an equation
• Can describe a normal distribution as being symmetrical with the greatest
frequency in the middle and relatively smaller frequencies as you move toward
the extremes
• In Excel - http://www.tushar-mehta.com/excel/charts/normal_distribution/
• http://www.willamette.edu/~mjaneba/help/normalcurve.html
• http://www.stat.tamu.edu/stat30x/notes/node74.html

## THE SHAPE OF A FREQUENCY DISTRIBUTION

• Three characteristics that completely describe any distribution: shape, central
tendency, and variability

CENTRAL TENDENCY

## • Where the centre of the distribution is located

VARIABILITY

• Whether the scores are spread over a wide range or are clustered together

SHAPE

## • Defined by an equation that prescribes the exact relationship between each X

and Y variable on the graph

SYMMETRICAL DISTRIBUTION

• Possible to draw a vertical line through the middle so that one side of the
distribution is a mirror image of the other

SKEWED DISTRIBUTION

• The scores tend to pile up toward one end of the scale and taper off gradually at
the other end
• The tail → Where the scores taper off toward one end of the distribution
○ Positively skewed → Tail on the right-hand side
○ Negatively skewed → Tail on the left-hand side

## PERCENTILES, PERCENTILE RANKS, AND INTERPOLATION

• The rank or percentile rank of a particular score is defined as the percentage of
individuals in the distribution with scores at or below the particular value

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• When a score is identified by its percentile rank, the score is called a percentile.
• Begin by calculating the cumulative frequencies – Example 2.5
• The cumulative frequencies show the number of individuals located at or below
each score

## • To find percentiles, covert these frequencies into percentages

c% = cf / N (100%)
• Each cumulative percentage is associated with the upper real limit of its score
interval

## • The general process for interpolation:

1. A single interval is measured on two separate scales (for example, time and
temperature). The endpoints of the interval are known for each scale.
2. You are given an intermediate value on one of the scales. The problem is to
find the corresponding intermediate value on the other scale.
3. The interpolation process requires four steps:
a. Find the width of the interval of both scales.
b. Locate the position of the intermediate value in the interval. This
position corresponds to a fraction of the whole interval:

## Fraction = Distance from the top of the interval

Interval width

c. Use this fraction to determine the distance from the top of the interval
on the other scale:

## Distance = (fraction) X (width)

d. Use the distance from the top to determine the position on the other
scale.

Example 2.6

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## STEM AND LEAF DISPLAYS

• Each score is separated into two parts: The first digit (or digits) is called the
stem, and the last digit (or digits) is called the leaf.

• Advantages of the stem and leaf display over the frequency distribution:
1. The stem and leaf display is very easy to construct.
2. The stem and leaf display allows you to identify every individual score in the
data.
3. The stem and leaf display provides both a listing of the scores and a picture
of the distribution.
4. Because the stem and leaf display presents the actual value for each score, it
is easy to modify a display if you want a more detailed picture of a
distribution. The modification simply requires that you split the distribution
into two or more parts, e.g., upper and lower parts of the leaves.