The Statistical Imagination

• Chapter 4. Measuring
Averages

© 2008 McGraw-Hill

usual.Central Tendency Statistic • A statistic that provides an estimate of the typical. or normal score found in a distribution of raw scores • Provides a sense of average © 2008 McGraw-Hill .

and the mode • Each has strengths and weaknesses that make it useful with certain score distributions • The relative values of the three central tendency statistics inform us of the shape of a score distribution © 2008 McGraw-Hill .The Three Measures of Central Tendency • The three central tendency statistics are the mean. the median.

Central Tendency Statistics and Levels of Measurement • The mean and median are appropriate with interval/ratio variables • The mode is appropriate with variables of all levels of measurement • With nominal variables. means and medians are meaningless © 2008 McGraw-Hill .

The Mean • The mean is the sum of all scores in a distribution divided by the number of scores observed. the arithmetic average • Most useful central tendency statistic because it allows for many mathematical operations • Applies to interval/ratio variables © 2008 McGraw-Hill .

then divide this sum by the number of observations (i.Calculating the Mean • Sum the individual scores of the interval/ratio variable X. the sample size.. n) • Weaknesses of the mean: Its calculation is affected by outliers and skews © 2008 McGraw-Hill .e.

divide this sum by the total n • Do NOT simply average the two group means © 2008 McGraw-Hill . multiply n times the group mean for each group and sum to obtain the total sum of X.Combined Mean of Two Groups • To get the combined mean of two groups of different sizes (n).

The Median • The median is the middle score in a ranked distribution. the score for which half of the cases fall above and half fall below • It is equal to the 50th percentile • It is a location score • Useful with interval/ratio variables • Best central tendency statistic to report when a distribution of scores is skewed © 2008 McGraw-Hill .

if n is even. the median will be an actual case in the sample.Calculating the Median • Rank the scores from smallest to largest • Divide the sample size by 2 to get near the middle score in the ranked distribution • If n is odd. the median is located between two middle scores and is calculated by taking the mean of those two scores © 2008 McGraw-Hill . however.

two distinctly different score distributions may have the same median • The median is sensitive to a change in sample size. the median may drastically change © 2008 McGraw-Hill . Thus.Weaknesses of the Median • The median is insensitive to the values of the scores in a distribution. If new cases are added.

f • Do not confuse the mode with “the majority of scores” • The mode is easy to spot in charts © 2008 McGraw-Hill . X . not a frequency.The Mode • The mode is the most frequently occurring or “most popular” score in a distribution • It is useful with variables of all levels of measurement • The mode is a score.

on a polygon. on a pie chart. the largest slice © 2008 McGraw-Hill .Calculating the Mode • Compile scores into a frequency distribution • Identify the value of X with the most cases • On a histogram. the highest peak. it is the score of X for the highest column.

Weaknesses of the Mode • The mode is the least useful measure of the three because of its narrow informational scope • The mode is insensitive to the values of scores in a distribution • The mode is also insensitive to sample size © 2008 McGraw-Hill .

00 or a percentage of 100 percent • The relative locations of the mean.Frequency Distribution Curves • A substitute for a frequency histogram or polygon in which we replace these graphs with a smooth curve • The area under the curve represents the total number of subjects in a population. median. and mode on the X-axis are predictable for certain shapes of distribution curves © 2008 McGraw-Hill . and is equal to a proportion of 1.

Normal distribution or “normal curve” 2.Three Common Shapes of Frequency Distributions 1. Negatively skewed distribution 3. Positively skewed distribution © 2008 McGraw-Hill .

median. the mean is the central tendency statistic of choice © 2008 McGraw-Hill .Features of the Normal Curve • The mean. and mode of the variable are equal and centered in the curve • The curve is symmetrical and bell-shaped • When a distribution is not skewed or otherwise oddly shaped.

Features of a Negatively Skewed Distribution • Has extreme scores in the low or negative end • The mean will have the lowest value of X. the mode the highest. and the median will fall between © 2008 McGraw-Hill .

It minimizes error in describing a skewed distribution because it falls between the mean and the mode © 2008 McGraw-Hill .Features of a Positively Skewed Distribution • Has extreme scores in the high or positive end • The mean will have the highest value of X. the mode the lowest. the median is the statistic of choice. and the median will fall between • When a distribution is skewed.

an age no one in either group approximates © 2008 McGraw-Hill . the average age of firstgraders (around 6 years old) and their mothers (averaging around 31 years old) is 18.5 years.Statistical Follies • Mixing subgroups of subjects can result in a distorted mean • For example.