Section 3.1

Fundamentals of Social Statistics by Adam J. McKee

Measures of Central Tendency

Measures of central tendency provide a single number that typifies the average score.  The most commonly reported of these are the mean, the median, and the mode.  The most popular among these is the mean.  The mean is so popular, in fact, that it is often simply called the average.  We will treat the term mean as referring to a specific statistic, and the term average as a more general term that is synonymous with measures of central tendency.  To identify the center of a data set, then, you use measures that are known as measures of central tendency; the most important of these are the mean, median, and mode. The mean represents the average (and in business—and Excel—means the exact same thing) value in a data set, while the median represents the midpoint. The median is a value that separates the data into two equal halves; half (exactly 50%) of the elements in the data set are less than the median, and the remaining half (the other 50%) are greater than the median. The mode is the most commonly occurring value in the dataset.

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Last Modified:  06/03/2021


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