Do you need statistics to understand your data?

Before I started my degree course in the field of Psychology, I had always though that although statistics is very important, you don’t essentially need it to understand data. However, In the past year I have realised that statistics is absolutely essential in order to gain an understanding about the data collected by other researchers. Although from time to time (when the difference between variables is relatively large), one can predict whether an experiment is significant or not by simply looking at the data but without a good understanding of statistical background, that person would not be able to support his/her prediction in a scientific approach. Furthermore, when analysing the results of a research experiment or study, the goal is to make the strongest possible conclusion from limited amounts of data in order to make inferences about the population. Therefore, it is essential to have a thorough understanding of statistics in order to understand the level of significance between two or more particular variables.

In order to publish a psychology research paper suggesting a significant difference between two or more populations, every researcher must run a statistical analysis on a programme called SPSS (Statistical Package for the Social Sciences). Researchers must plot their gathered data into the programme’s database and run the appropriate statistical test such as a one-sample t-test or a repeated-measures ANOVA etc. Without a good understanding of statistics, the researcher would not be able to figure out what the data from the experiment actually means.

Since I have been properly introduced to statistics, I have realised how important it is to have a good statistical understanding in every day life. We are most likely faced with data in one way or another every single day. We encounter the use of statistics in news reports, weather forecasts, elections and advertisements (Robert Duval, 2008). For example, in this advertisement by L’Oreal and by many other company commercials, surveys are often announced in which the company investigates how many customers would recommend a particular product to a friend (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XLH4rG2eFYo&feature=relmfu). In order to obtain this data, the company’s researchers would need to have a good understanding of statistics in order to create a statistical analysis. Furthermore, the customer would also need some general understanding of statistics in order to work out whether 72% of 227 women is a strong number of satisfied customers or not.

Consequently, I do believe that statistics is very important in order to understand data whether it is being used in order to demonstrate a significance between variables in a research paper, in advertisement or just in every day environments. Primarily, statistics plays an essential role in every field of human activity (emathzone 2008 – 2011).

 

 

 

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4 thoughts on “Do you need statistics to understand your data?

  1. brilliant blog! i didn’t know that SPSS stood for Statistical Package for the Social Sciences, I also liked you last comment on statistics being essential in EVERY field of human activity!

  2. This blog has everything, it has evidence to support that advertising needs statistical analysis and the importance of it in order to convince the consumer to buy the product. The use of t test and ANOVA in different areas of research. Maybe the mention of Standard Deviation and its importance in statistical analysis and possibly the significance threshold however this is still a very good piece of work! Very well done!

  3. You’re right, sometimes we can see significance or not with just the data and not the stats#1 it is not always essential, but this might only be on rare occasions. It is very clear how you feel about this topic. You make some very good points to support your argument, your ‘L’Oreal’ example is great because it is so realistic and so true in the way people interpret data like that! However I would suggest maybe you could’ve used a scientific example too to back up your points? Great argument put forward here though your view on the topic is very strong!

  4. I agree with your point that statistics are needed to get an understanding of data and that we can also have a basic understanding of the data without a statistical background. As psychology students we need knowledge of statistics to understand and interpret what our data means. I like how you have used adverts to show how we need an understanding of statistics in our daily life not only in research.

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