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Choosing a statistical test

This table is designed to help you decide which statistical test or descriptive statistic is
appropriate for your experiment. In order to use it, you must be able to identify all the
variables in the data set and tell what kind of variables they are.

The "hidden" nominal variable in a regression is the nominal variable that groups together
two or more observations; for example, in a regression of height and weight, the hidden
nominal variable is the name of each person. Most texts don't count this as a variable, and
you don't need to write it down (you could just group the the height and weight numbers by
putting them on the same line), so that's why I'm calling it "hidden."

nominal continuous rank


test purpose notes example
variables variables variables
exact test for 1 - - test fit of used for small count the number of males and
goodness-of-fit observed sample sizes females in a small sample, test
frequencies to (less than expected 1:1 ratio
expected 1000)
frequencies
G-test for 1 - - test fit of used for large count the number of red, pink
goodness-of-fit observed sample sizes white flowers in a genetic cros
frequencies to (greater than fit to expected 1:2:1 ratio
expected 1000)
frequencies
Chi-square test 1 - - test fit of used for large count the number of red, pink
for goodness- observed sample sizes white flowers in a genetic cros
of-fit frequencies to (greater than fit to expected 1:2:1 ratio
expected 1000)
frequencies
Randomization 1 - - test fit of used for small count the number of offspring
test for observed sample sizes trihybrid genetic cross, test fit
goodness-of-fit frequencies to (less than expected 27:9:9:9:3:3:3:1 ratio
expected 1000) with a
frequencies large number
of categories
G-test of 2+ - - test hypothesis large sample count the number of apoptotic
independence that sizes (greater non-apoptotic cells in liver tiss
proportions are than 1000) organic chemists, molecular
the same in biologists, and regular people,
different the hypothesis that the proport
groups are the same
Chi-square test 2+ - - test hypothesis large sample count the number of apoptotic
of that sizes (greater non-apoptotic cells in liver tiss
independence proportions are than 1000) organic chemists, molecular
the same in biologists, and regular people,
different the hypothesis that the proport
groups are the same
Fisher's exact 2 - - test hypothesis used for small count the number of left-hande
test that sample sizes right-handed grad students in
proportions are (less than Biology and Animal Science, t
the same in 1000) the hypothesis that the proport
different are the same
groups
Randomization 2 - - test hypothesis used for small count the number of cells in ea
test of that sample sizes stage of the cell cycle in two
independence proportions are (less than different tissues, test the hypot
the same in 1000) and that the proportions are the sam
different large numbers
groups of categories
Mantel- 3 - - test hypothesis - count the number of left-hande
Haenzel test that right-handed grad students in
proportions are Biology and Animal Science a
the same in several universities, test the
repeated hypothesis that the proportions
pairings of two the same; alternate hypothesis
groups consistent direction of differen
arithmetic - 1 - description of - -
mean central
tendency of
data
median - 1 - description of more useful median height of trees in fores
central than mean for most trees are short seedlings a
tendency of very skewed the mean would be skewed by
data data few very tall trees
range - 1 - description of used more in -
dispersion of everyday life
data than in
scientific
statistics
variance - 1 - description of forms the -
dispersion of basis of many
data statistical
tests; in
squared units,
so not very
understandable
standard - 1 - description of in same units -
deviation dispersion of as original
data data, so more
understandable
than variance
standard error - 1 - description of - -
of the mean accuracy of an
estimate of a
mean
confidence - 1 - description of - -
interval accuracy of an
estimate of a
mean
one-way 1 1 - test the model I: the compare mean heavy metal co
anova, model I hypothesis that nominal in mussels from Nova Scotia,
the mean variable is Maine, Massachusetts, Connec
values of the meaningful, New York and New Jersey, to
continuous differences whether there is variation in th
variable are among groups level of pollution
the same in are interesting
different
groups
one-way 1 1 - estimate the model II: the compare mean heavy metal co
anova, model proportion of nominal in mussels from five different
II variance in the variable is families raised under common
continuous somewhat conditions, to see if there is
variable arbitrary, heritable variation in heavy me
"explained" by partitioning uptake
the nominal variance is
variable more
interesting
than
determining
which groups
are different
sequential 1 1 - after a - compare mean heavy metal co
Dunn-Sidak significant in mussels from Nova Scotia+
method one-way vs. Massachusetts+Connecticu
model I anova, Nova Scotia vs.
test the Massachusetts+Connecticut+N
homogeneity York
of means of
planned, non-
orthogonal
comparisons
of groups
Gabriel's 1 1 - after a - compare mean heavy metal co
comparison significant in mussels from Nova Scotia v
intervals one-way Maine, Nova Scotia vs.
model I anova, Massachusetts, Maine vs.
test for Massachusetts, etc.
significant
differences
between all
pairs of groups
Tukey-Kramer 1 1 - after a - compare mean heavy metal co
method significant in mussels from Nova Scotia v
one-way Maine, Nova Scotia vs.
model I anova, Massachusetts, Maine vs.
test for Massachusetts, etc.
significant
differences
between all
pairs of groups
Bartlett's test 1 1 - test the usually used to -
hypothesis that see whether
the variance of data fit one of
a continous the
variable is the assumptions of
same in an anova
different
groups
nested anova 2+ 1 - test hypothesis subgroups compare mean heavy metal co
that the mean must be in mussels from Nova Scotia,
values of the arbitrary Maine, Massachusetts, Connec
continous (model II) New York and New Jersey; se
variable are mussels from each location, w
the same in several metal measurements fr
different each mussel
groups, when
each group is
divided into
subgroups
two-way anova 2 1 - test the - compare cholesterol levels in b
hypothesis that of male vegetarians, female
different vegetarians, male carnivores, a
groups, female carnivores
classified two
ways, have the
same means of
the continuous
variable
paired t-test 2 1 - test the - compare the cholesterol level i
hypothesis that blood of people before vs. afte
the means of switching to a vegetarian diet
the continuous
variable are
the same in
paired data
linear - 2 - see whether - measure chirping speed in cric
regression variation in an at different temperatures, test
independent whether variation in temperatu
variable causes causes variation in chirping sp
some of the or use the estimated relationsh
variation in a estimate temperature from chir
dependent speed when no thermometer is
variable; available
estimate the
value of one
unmeasured
variable
corresponding
to a measured
variable
correlation - 2 - see whether - measure salt intake and fat inta
two variables different people's diets, to see
covary people who eat a lot of fat also
lot of salt
multiple - 3+ - fit an equation - measure air temperature, humi
regression relating body mass, leg length, see how
several X relate to chirping speed in cric
variables to a
single Y
variable
polynomial - 2 - test the - -
regression hypothesis that
an equation
with X2, X3,
etc. fits the Y
variable
significantly
better than a
linear
regression
analysis of 1 2 - test the first step is to measure chirping speed vs.
covariance hypothesis that test the temperature in four species of
different homogeneity crickets, see if there is signific
groups have of slopes; if variation among the species in
the same they are not slope or y-intercept of the
regression significantly relationships
lines different, the
homogeneity
of the Y-
intercepts is
tested
sign test 2 - 1 test often used as a compare the cholesterol level i
randomness of non- blood of people before vs. afte
direction of parametric switching to a vegetarian diet,
difference in alternative to a record whether it is higher or l
paired data paired t-test after the switch
Kruskal– 1 - 1 test the often used as a 40 ears of corn (8 from each of
Wallis test hypothesis that non- varieties) are judged for tastine
rankings are parametric and the mean rank is compared
the same in alternative to among varieties
different one-way
groups anova
Spearman rank - - 2 see whether often used as a 40 ears of corn (8 from each of
correlation the ranks of non- varieties) are judged for tastine
two variables parametric and prettiness, see whether pre
covary alternative to corn is also tastier
regression or
correlation