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Selecting Appropriate Inferential Statistical Techniques

To begin our conversation about inferential statistics, the first step is to develop the ability to determine the
appropriate statistical technique to various situations. This decision that is a function of the research question
asked and the nature and the level of measurement of the variables involved. That is, we begin with the research
question, identify the dependent and independent variables involved, identify the level of measurement of every
variable, and go to the accompanying table that will point us to the appropriate technique.
A few words of wisdom! To have a dependent variable, there must be at least one independent variable (and vice
versa). So, you cant have research questions where both or all variables are dependent (what variable would they
be independent of?), or independent.
As for levels of measurements, as you may recall, it is up to us to decide at what level we may want to measure any
variable. Also, variables measured as Numerics can be grouped into Attributes.
Please review the How to use this Matrix documents and study the examples below. Post any questions you
have in this thread for discussion. If you do not agree with the statistical technique selected, or you believed the
technique is inappropriate, then state your reason as well.

How to use this matrix:


This matrix is not intended to help you select the appropriate statistical method in all situations you may run into.
Rather, this matrix is intended to show you when to apply those methods on which we will concentrate most in this
course.
Each box in the matrix is labeled by a number from 1 to 6. A description of the contents on the box is provided
below under the same number.
1. Variables measured at the Nominal or Ordinal level of measurement.
2. Variables measured at the Interval or Ratio level of measurement.
3. Chi-square analysis is conducted when both variables are measured as attributes. There are certain
assumptions in The Chi-square model that have to be maintained. If these assumptions are not met, other
non-parametric techniques can help.
4. Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) is conducted to compare averages of two or more groups. As such, the
dependent variable is measured as a numeric (average of a measurement) and the independent variable is an
attribute (groups). Other variations of this analysis such as Repeated Measures ANOVA and Analysis of
Covariance (ANCOVA) also fall in this category.
5. Discriminant analysis is a special case where the dependent variable is classified into two or more categories
(e.g., Yes, No).
6. Regression and Correlation are performed to compare two variables measured as numerics. Multiple
regression is used when the relationship between one dependent variable and a number of independent
variables, all measured as numerics, are examined.
2

Dependent
Variable
1. Attribute
2. Numeric

Independent Variable

1. Attribute

3. Chi-Square
Non-Parametric
Techniques

5. * Discriminant
Analysis

2. Numeric
4. ANOVA
ANCOVA
Repeated Measures ANOVA
(Z-tests & t-tests)

6. Correlation
Regression
Multiple Regression

Review: For the following research question, identify the dependent and independent variables, whether they are attributes or
numerics, and the appropriate analytical technique:
Is there a difference in salary based on gender? (Salary is measured in actual monthly salary in dollars)
Variable

Dependent/Independent

Level of Measurement
(Attribute or Numeric)

Statistical Technique

Salary

Dependent

Numeric

ANOVA

Gender

Independent

Attribute

Complete the following examples:


Is there a relationship between the number of people going to a movie and dollars spent on advertising for the movie?
Variable

Dependent/Independent

Level of Measurement
(Attribute or Numeric)

Number of people going to a


movie

Dependent

Numeric

Dollars spent on advertising for


the movie

Independent

Statistical Technique

Regression/Correlation
Numeric

Is there a difference in the proportion of those students who select different college major based on their ethnicity?
Variable

Dependent/Independent

Level of Measurement
(Attribute or Numeric)

College Major

Dependent

Attribute

Statistical Technique

Chi-square
Ethnicity

Independent

Attribute

Is there a difference in average age among computer buyers based on their preference for Mac or PCs?
Variable

Dependent/Independent

Level of Measurement
(Attribute or Numeric)

Age

Dependent

Numeric

Statistical Technique

ANOVA
Choice of computer

Independent

Attribute

Is there a difference in average SAT scores based on students gender?


Variable

Dependent/Independent

Level of Measurement
(Attribute or Numeric)

SAT scores (not average SAT


score)

Dependent

Numeric

Statistical Technique

ANOVA
Gender

Independent

Attribute

Is there a relationship between a students SAT Math score and the students Age?
Variable

Dependent/Independent

Level of Measurement
(Attribute or Numeric)

SAT Score

Dependent

Numeric

Statistical Technique

Regression
Age

Independent

Numeric

Is there a difference in the amount of time spent on browsing the net and the type of the work the person performs?
(Amount of time browsing the net is measured in 1-2 hours, 3-5 hours, more than 5 hours, and the type of work is defined as
technical and non-technical)
Variable

Dependent/Independent

Level of Measurement
(Attribute or Numeric)

Time browsing the net

Dependent

Attribute

Statistical Technique

Chi-Square
Type of work performed

Independent

Attribute