Monday, March 29, 2021

Normal Distribution or Bell Curve


The bell curve is also known as the normal curve or normal distribution. This curve has mathematical properties that allow researchers to draw conclusions about where scores are located relative to other scores.

The three measures ofcentral tendency (mode, median, mean) are at the same middle point in a normal curve. The numbers representing the middle of the curve divide the curve in half.

The x-axis in the normal curve indicates the mean at zero and the standard deviation units above and below the mean. 

The height of the curve indicates the percentage of scores in that area. You can see that a large percentage of the scores are between 1 and -1 standard deviations.

 The ends of the distribution are called tails. Extreme scores are in the tails. Consider the height of the distribution at - 2.5 or +2.5 standard deviations. At these points, the curve almost touches the x-axis. 

Only a small percentage of scores is beyond 2.5 standard deviations in either direction. Theoretically, the tails of the curve never touch the baseline. Only a small fraction of a percent of scores is beyond 3 standard deviations.

The picture below illustrates the percentage of scores (or data) within different areas of the curve. For example, on a normally distributed test, 34.1% of scores will fall between the mean and 1 standard deviation above the mean. Because the curve is symmetrical, the same percentage will be between the mean and 1 standard deviation below the mean.

Read more in Chapter 10 of

Applied Statistics Concepts for Counselors on AMAZON or GOOGLE

Related posts/ pages

A-Z list of statistics

Skewed distributions

Please check out my website

   and see my books on   AMAZON       or  GOOGLE STORE

Also, consider connecting with me on    FACEBOOK   Geoff W. Sutton    

   TWITTER  @Geoff.W.Sutton    

You can read many published articles at no charge:

  Academia   Geoff W Sutton     ResearchGate   Geoffrey W Sutton 



Correlation coefficient the Pearson r in statistics


The term correlation can refer to a statistic and a type of research. 

Understanding correlations is an important building block of many complex ideas in statistics and research methods. My focus in this post is on the common correlation statistic, also called the Pearson r.

The Pearson r is a statistical value that tells the strength and direction of the relationship between two normally distributed variables measured on an interval or ratio scale.

Researchers examine the two sets of values and calculate a summary statistic called a correlation coefficient. The longer name for a common correlation statistic is the Pearson Product Moment Correlation Coefficient but sometimes it is referred to as the Pearson r. The symbol for correlation is a lower case and italicized r.  In behavioural research, we normally round values to two decimal points. A moderately strong positive correlation example is r = .78.

      Sometimes, the relationship between the two variables is negative. For example, the relationship between depression and self-esteem is often negative. As depression increases, self-esteem decreases. An example of a negative correlation would be written as r = -.45. The minus sign tells us that as one variable increases, the other variable decreases. The relationship is commonly described in journal articles as an inverse relationship.

An example from published research is the relationship between perceived stress and humility couples experience as they transition to parenthood. As a part of their work, Jennifer Ripley and her research team (2016) found that the correlation between a measure of perceived stress and a measure of humility ranged from -.33 to -.45, which indicates that high stress is associated with low humility.

The relationship between two variables not only varies in a positive or negative direction but it also varies in terms of strength. Large r values indicate a stronger relationship. When r = .75 or -.75, the relationship is of equal strength but in different directions. Relationships with a low number such as r = .15 or r = -.11 indicate weak relationships.

      When r values are at or near zero, we say there is no relationship between the variables. For example, we may find no relationship between scores on questionnaires about humility and depression.

Correlation is not causation

The fact that two variables have a strong relationship does not mean one variable causes the other.

Read more about correlations in Chapter 13 of 

Applied Statistics Concepts for Counselors on AMAZON or GOOGLE

Graphing the Correlations

This is an example of fictitious data illustrating a positive correlation between anxiety and depression. Anxiety and depression are different states but both may be present.

The following is an example of  fictitious data illustrating a negative correlation between self-esteem and depression. A high self-esteem score of 8 reflects low depression. Low self-esteem near 2 reflects a high level of depression at 7.


Correlations are commonly calculated in many research projects where the relationship between variables is important.

Correlations are also important to understanding the reliability of test scores and test validity.

Key concepts

Correlation coefficient

Pearson Product Moment Correlation

Inverse relationship

Positive correlation

Negative correlation

Link to A-Z list of Statistical Terms


Ripley, J. S., Garthe, R. C., Perkins, A., Worthington, E. J., Davis, D. E., Hook, J. N., & ... Eaves, D. (2016). Perceived partner humility predicts subjective stress during transition to parenthood. Couple and Family Psychology: Research and Practice5(3), 157-167. doi:10.1037/cfp0000063

Sutton, G. W. (2020). Applied statistics: Concepts for counselors, second edition. Springfield, MO: Sunflower. AMAZON  Paperback ISBN-10: 168821772X, ISBN-13: 978-168217720    website: counselorstatistics

Please check out my website

   and see my books on   AMAZON       or  GOOGLE STORE

Also, consider connecting with me on    FACEBOOK   Geoff W. Sutton    

   TWITTER  @Geoff.W.Sutton    

You can read many published articles at no charge:

  Academia   Geoff W Sutton     ResearchGate   Geoffrey W Sutton 

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Skewed Distributions


Skewed distributions have one tail that is longer than the other tail compared to the "normal" distribution, which is perfectly symmetrical. 

Positive Skew

Below is an image of positive skew, which is also called right skew. Skew is named for the "tail." If you had statistics, you may have heard a professor say, "the tail tells the tale." The tail is the extended part of the distribution close to the horizontal axis.

The large "hump" area to the left represents the location of most data. In behavioural science, the high part often refers to the location of most of the scores. Thus, in positively skewed distributions, most of the participants earned low scores and few obtained high scores as you can see by the low level of the curve, or the tail, to the right.

Negative Skew

As you might expect, negatively skewed distributions have the long tail on the left thus, they are also called left-skewed distributions. A negatively skewed distribution of test scores illustrates an easy test--just what students want. Teachers used to talk about grading on a curve. You can see that such grading could be good or bad for students depending on what curve the teacher uses.

Skewed distributions are nonnormal by definition. 

Recall that in the normal curve, the mean, median, and mode are all at the same point in the middle of the distribution. The value of skew in a normal distribution is zero. 

In skewed distributions, the mode is at the high point and it represents the most frequent value or test score. The mean is pulled in the direction of the long tail and the median falls between the mode and the mean.

Common test questions ask what happens to the mean in skewed distributions. Keep in mind that the mean is "pulled" toward the tail. The mean is an average and, as such, it is most susceptible to extreme scores.

Skew and Data Analysis

Most statisticians accept small deviations from normality when analysing data using procedures designed for a normal distribution like the Pearson r, t tests, and the parametric ANOVAs

The question of acceptable ranges of skew will yield different answers from different sources. A range of +1.5 to -1.5 is a common rule of thumb. An important consideration is the "true" nature of the measured variable. Scientists may argue for flexibility in analysing data from a sample if the variable is known to be normally distributed in the population.

Skewed data can be adjusted and should be adjusted before using parametric tests. One method of adjustment is to convert all scores to logarithms and perform the data analysis on these transformed values.

If the data are too skewed and it is inappropriate to transform the data, then analysts should use nonparametric statistical methods.


In statistics, the concept of moments is taken from physics. Moments refer to central values. The first moment is found by calculating the value of the mean. The first moment is zero.

The second moment is seen in the calculation of variance, which uses squared values.

The third moment is found by calculating skew and the fourth moment results in the calculation for kurtosis.

Learn more about behavioural statistics in Applied Statistics Concepts for Counselors on AMAZON   or   GOOGLE

Learn More about analyzing data  in Creating Surveys on AMAZON or GOOGLE

Please check out my website

   and see my books on   AMAZON       or  GOOGLE STORE

Also, consider connecting with me on    FACEBOOK   Geoff W. Sutton    

   TWITTER  @Geoff.W.Sutton    

You can read many published articles at no charge:

  Academia   Geoff W Sutton     ResearchGate   Geoffrey W Sutton 

Normal Distribution or Bell Curve

  The bell curve is also known as the normal curve or normal distribution . This curve has mathematical  properties that allow researchers...