What is a Dichotomous Variable?

A very complicated name for a very simple thing. It is also called Dichotomous outcome variable or just Dichotomous outcome. It means “having only two possible values”, e.g. “yes/no”, “male/female”, “head/tail”, “age > 35 / age <= 35” etc. From a data capture standpoint, these are usually captured on surveys as radio buttons.

The outcome of an experiment with coin tossing is dichotomous (“head” or “tail”); the variable “biological sex” in a social study is dichotomous (“male” or “female”). Dichotomous variables are the simplest and intuitively clear type of random variable s. For this reason mental (and real) coin-tossing experiments are often used in introductory courses in statistics and probability. Nevertheless, statistical methods developed for analysis of dichotomous variables are often more complex, both conceptually and mathematically, than parallel methods for continuous variables.

Published: October 09 2013

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