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Descriptive and Inferential Statistics

Statistics are all-around and used in everyday life. Statistics are used to describe how effective a medication is for a certain disorder to what the most popular color is in the United States. According to Aron, Aron, and Coups, 2009, “statistics is a method of pursuing truth. As a minimum, statistics can tell you the likelihood that your hunch is true in this time and place and with these sorts of people” (p. 2). Psychologist use two branches of statistics to summarize his or her results and those are descriptive and inferential statistics. This paper will discuss the function of statistics, what descriptive and inferential statistics are, and the ...view middle of the document...

Statistics are an important part when conducting research. There are two branches of statistical methods that can be used: descriptive statistics and inferential statistics. The method used in research depends on what one wants to achieve with one’s research.

Descriptive statistics

Aron, Aron, and Coups, 2009 definesdescriptive statistics as a procedure “for summarizing a group of scores or otherwise making them more comprehensible” (p.3).In other words, when using descriptive statistics, a researcher attempts to find out information about a specific group of scores, values, individuals, etc. For example, a psychologist may want to find out how many of his/her patients suffering from depression benefit from group therapy. The therapist develops the hypothesis that group therapy is in fact beneficial. At the end of the research period, the researcher will either find out that his or her hypothesis was correct, or incorrect. When using descriptive statistics as a research method, the information is generally obtained via primary data. Primary data is obtained directly by the researcher via surveys, interviews, group sessions, etc. The advantage of using primary data is that the researcher can tailor his/her questions directly to his or her specific needs and to obtain information that is as accurate as possible (University of Georgia, 2003). The following concepts are used when it comes to obtaining and interpreting data:

(1) Variables: specific characteristics that can have different values.

(2) Values: the possible number/category assigned to a score.

(3) Score: the value an individual places on a variable.

(4) Central tendency: the most represented value/score.

(5) Mean: an arithmetic average of scores.

(6) Mode: the greatest frequency in a distribution.

(7) Median: the middle score when all scores are arranged from lowest score to highest.

The author Steinberg states that the results obtained in one’s research can describe the findings “in a visual nutshell through visuals such as tables, charts, and graphs” (2004, p. 125) Descriptive statistics can be organized via frequency tables, pie or bar charts, or histograms. The visual representation of data allows painting a clearer picture about the research results and allows for easy interpretation.

Inferential statistics

According to Aron, Aron, & Coups, 2009 inferential statistics are “procedures for drawing conclusions based on the scores collected in a research study but going beyond them” (p.2). By using inferential statistics, a researcher can draw conclusions on a much larger scale. For example, a study conducted via descriptive statistics shows that 95% of individuals suffering from a mental illness experienced a relief of symptoms by using a certain psychotropic medication. Since most individuals that took part in the study benefited from the drug, the researcher can draw the conclusion that most individuals suffering from the same illness will benefit from taking the...

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