The Statistical Imagination

• Chapter 6. Probability Theory
and the Normal Probability
Distribution

© 2008 McGraw-Hill

Probability Theory • Probability theory is the analysis and understanding of chance occurrences © 2008 McGraw-Hill .

What is a Probability? • A probability is a specification of how frequently a particular event of interest is likely to occur over a large number of trials • Probability of success is the probability of an event occurring • Probability of failure is the probability of an event not occurring © 2008 McGraw-Hill .

where p [of success] = the probability of “the event of interest" © 2008 McGraw-Hill .The Basic Formula for Calculating a Probability • p [of success] = the number of successes divided by the number of trials or possible outcomes.

Basic Rules of Probability Theory • There are five basic rules of probability that underlie all calculations of probabilities © 2008 McGraw-Hill .

g.g.. p [that a raw egg will break if struck with a hammer ] = 1.00 (or 100%) means the event will absolutely happen. p [of an individual making a free-standing leap of 30 feet into the air] = 0 • A probability of 1.Probability Rule 1: Probabilities Always Range Between 0 and 1 • Since probabilities are proportions of a total number of possible events. the lower limit is a proportion of zero (or a percentage of 0%) • A probability of zero means the event cannot happen.. e.00 © 2008 McGraw-Hill . e.

for a deck of 52 playing cards: p [ace or jack] = p [ace] + p [jack] • The word or is a cue to add probabilities.Probability Rule 2: The Addition Rule for Alternative Events • An alternative event is where there is more than one outcome that makes for success • The addition rule states that the probability of alternative events is equal to the sum of the probabilities of the individual events • For example. substitute a plus sign for the word or © 2008 McGraw-Hill .

search for joint occurrences and subtract the double counts © 2008 McGraw-Hill .Probability Rule 3: Adjust for Joint Occurrences • Sometimes a single outcome is successful in more than one way • An example: What is the probability that a randomly selected student in the class is male or single? A single-male fits both criteria • We call “single-male” a joint occurrence an event that double counts success • When calculating the probability of alternative events.

g. such as flipping a coin twice • The multiplication rule states that the probability of a compound event is equal to the multiple of the probabilities of the separate parts of the event • E.. we extract the number of successes in the numerator and the number of possible outcomes in the denominator © 2008 McGraw-Hill .Probability Rule 4: The Multiplication Rule • A compound event is a multiple-part event. p [queen then jack] = p [queen] • p [jack] • By multiplying.

in drawing a queen and then a jack from a deck of cards. are we to replace the queen before drawing for the jack? • The probability “with replacement” will compute differently than “without replacement” © 2008 McGraw-Hill .Probability Rule 5: Replacement and Compound Events • With compound events we must stipulate whether replacement is to take place. For example.

we can compute Z-scores and use them to determine the proportion of a population’s scores falling between any two scores in the distribution • Partitioning the normal curve refers to computing Z-scores and using them to determine any area under the curve © 2008 McGraw-Hill .Using the Normal Curve as a Probability Distribution • With an interval/ratio variable that is normally distributed.

A probabilistic interpretation that describes the probability of a single random drawing of a subject from this population © 2008 McGraw-Hill . p 1.Three Ways to Interpret the Symbol. A graphical interpretation that describes the proportion of the area under a normal curve 3. A distributional interpretation that describes the result in relation to the distribution of scores in a population or sample 2.

Obtain the probability ( p ) from either column B or column C © 2008 McGraw-Hill . Compute Z-scores 4. Draw and label the normal curve stipulating values of X and corresponding values of Z 2.Procedure for Partitioning Areas Under the Normal Curve 1. Identify and shade the target area ( p ) under the curve 3. Locate a Z-score in column A of the normal curve table 5.

Information Provided in the Normal Curve Table • Column A contains Z-scores for one side of the curve or the other • Column B provides areas under the curve ( p ) from the mean of X to the Z-score in column A • Column C provides areas under the curve from the Z-score in column A out into the tail © 2008 McGraw-Hill .

Important Considerations in Partitioning Normal Curves • The variable must be of interval/ratio level of measurement • The sample and population must be normally distributed • Always draw the curve and its target area to avoid mistakes in reading the normal curve table © 2008 McGraw-Hill .

Percentiles and the Normal Curve • A percentile rank is the percentage of a sample or population that falls at or below a specified value of a variable • If a distribution of scores is normal in shape. then the normal curve and Z-scores can be used to quickly calculate percentile ranks © 2008 McGraw-Hill .

g.Statistical Follies • The Gambler’s Fallacy is the notion that past gaming events. such as the roll of dice in the casino game.. are affected (or dependent upon) past events • E. It is fallacious to think that because a coin came up heads three times in a row that tails is bound to come up on the next toss • The tosses are independent of one another © 2008 McGraw-Hill . Craps.