Independent and Dependent Variables

Fundamentals of Social Statistics by Adam J. McKee

Special names are used for the two variables that are being studied by a researcher in an experiment.  The variable that is manipulated by the researcher—the one thought to cause a change in the other—is called the independent variable.  The variable that is observed to see if it was changed by the independent variable is called the dependent variable.  It is called dependent because its value depends on the independent variable.

In an experiment, the independent variable often reflects that the researcher administered some type of treatment—something we do to the participants.  In its simplest form, an experiment involves two groups.  The first is the group that got the treatment—the experimental group.  A second group does not get the treatment.  Individuals in this group are said to be in the control group.

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Last Modified:  06/29/2018

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