Independent and Dependent Variables

Dear Students,

Near the end of class yesterday, one of you reported that it's sometimes hard to distinguish between a study's "independent" and "dependent" variables. We didn't have time yesterday to deal with this good question, so I'll try to do so in this e-mail message.

Regarding independent and dependent variables, here's the way I try to figure out what's what. In a study in which different groups (say males in one group, females in the other) are compared on something (say IQ), the independent variable indicates the way in which the comparison groups are distinguished from one another BEFORE any data are collected. Thus, in my little example, the IV would be Gender (or Sex). The DV is the name of the data that are collected to see if the comparison groups differ. In my example, the DV is IQ.

Sky Huck

Copyright © 2012

Schuyler W. Huck
All rights reserved.

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