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Central Tendency

Central tendency typically aims to locate the average value in a set of data and can be measured by calculating the mean, median and/or mode. In a basic sense, the mean, median and mode just symbolize different methods of finding the central point of a data set. However, typically the value of the mean and median is restricted to numerical data, whereas the mode can also be useful when considering categorical data.

Technically, the mode is not strictly considered a measure of central tendency, but rather it provides insight on the behaviour of the data (1). The mode details the value which is most frequently apparent in a data set, whereas, the mean and median provide detail on the average or the central value. Nevertheless, all three measures of central tendency are alike in how they contribute information regarding how values are distributed in a data set.

Additionally, it is also important to understand when it is most appropriate to use one of the measures of central tendency over another. For example, when a data set has several outliers, which vary greatly from the majority of the data points, it would be more appropriate to use the median over the mean. In this case, the mean would not necessarily be a good indication of the average value because the data would be fairly skewed, whereas, the median would indicate the middle number. Thus, the median would be a better indication of the data's central marker.

Reference:

1. http://knowledge.sagepub.com.proxy.queensu.ca/view/socialscience/n544.xml?rskey=MLlS76&row=2

There is also a quiz called “Measures of Central Tendency” which can be found at the following link: https://brainmass.com/admin/quizzes/take/67/measures-of-central-tendency

Categories within Central Tendency

Mean

Postings: 28

The mean is analogous to the average value in a data set and is found by dividing the total sum of a data set by the number of values in the set.

Median

Postings: 27

The median is used when locating the middle value in a numerical data set.

Mode

Postings: 2

The mode can be used for both categorical and numerical data sets and locates the most frequently used or recorded value in a set of data.

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