The Statistical Imagination

• Chapter 5. Measuring
Dispersion or Spread in a
Distribution of Scores

© 2008 McGraw-Hill

Measuring Dispersion in a Score Distribution • Dispersion: How the scores of an interval/ratio variable are spread out from lowest to highest and the shape of the distribution in between • The most commonly used dispersion statistics are the range and standard deviation © 2008 McGraw-Hill .

The Range • The range is an expression of how the scores of an interval/ratio variable are distributed from lowest to highest • It is the distance between the minimum and maximum scores in a sample © 2008 McGraw-Hill .

Identify the minimum and maximum scores • 3. Rank the scores from lowest to highest • 2.Calculating the Range • 1. Identify the value of the rounding unit • Range = (Maximum score .Minimum score) + the value of the rounding unit © 2008 McGraw-Hill .

but tells us nothing about how they are spread between the maximum and minimum scores © 2008 McGraw-Hill . It provides the width of a distribution of scores.Limitations of the Range • The range is greatly affected by outliers • The range has a narrow informational scope.

The Standard Deviation • The standard deviation describes how scores are spread across the distribution in relation to the mean score • It provides a standard unit of comparison – a common unit of measure for comparing variables with very different observed units of measure • Its computation centers on how far each score is from the mean – how far it “deviates” © 2008 McGraw-Hill .

Calculating the Standard Deviation • Sort givens and calculate the mean and deviation scores • Sum the deviation scores and verify a result of zero • Square the deviation scores and sum them to obtain the variation or “sum of squares” • Divide the variation by n .1 to get the variance • Take the square root of the variance to get the standard deviation © 2008 McGraw-Hill .

1 to adjust for sample size and sampling error • We take the square root of the variance to obtain directly interpretable units of measure (units instead of squared units) © 2008 McGraw-Hill .The Elements of the Standard Deviation (See Table 5-1) • We square deviation scores to remove negative signs and to obtain a sum other than zero • We divide the sum of squares by n .

Limitations of the Standard Deviation • The standard deviation is greatly inflated by outliers • It can be misleading if the distribution is skewed © 2008 McGraw-Hill .

also in original units of measure 3. As a deviation score – the difference between a raw score and its mean. As a raw score – the observed value of X in its original units of measure such as inches 2. X 1. As a standardized score (Z-score) – as a number of standard deviations (SD) from the mean © 2008 McGraw-Hill .Three Ways to Express the Value of a Score.

Standardized Scores or Z-scores • Z-scores express a raw score as a number of standard deviations (SD) from the mean score • Divide the deviation score by the standard deviation to produce a measure of X in standard deviation units © 2008 McGraw-Hill .

within 2 SD of the mean in both directions • About 68%. within 1 SD of the mean in both directions © 2008 McGraw-Hill .7% of cases fall within 3 SD of the mean in both directions • About 95%.The Standard Deviation Is a Part of the Normal Curve • For any normally distributed variable: • 99.

Using the Normal Curve to Partition Areas • If a variable is distributed normally. we can use sample statistics and what we know about the normal curve to estimate how many scores in a population fall within a certain range © 2008 McGraw-Hill .

the distribution is skewed or otherwise oddly shaped © 2008 McGraw-Hill .Statistical Follies • Comparing the relative sizes of the mean and standard deviation is a good way to detect skews • When the calculated standard deviation is larger than the mean for the variable.