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Measures of Central Tendency

There are 3 measures of central tendency

a) The mean
Some of the important characteristics of the mean are:
1. It is the most familiar and most widely used measure. Long explanations of its meaning
are thus not usually required.
2. It is a computed measure whose value is affected by the value of every observation. A
change in the value of any observation will change the mean value; however, the mean
value may not be the same as any of the observation values.
3. Its value may be distorted too much by a relatively few extreme values. Because it is
affected by all the values of the variable, the mean can lose its representative quality in
badly skewed distributions.
4. It cannot be computed from an open-ended distribution in the absence of additional
5. It is the most reliable average to use when sample data are being used to make inferences
about populations. The mean of a sample of observations taken from a population may be
used to estimate the value of the population mean.
6. It possesses two mathematical properties that will prove to be important in subsequent
chapters. The first of these properties is that the sum of the differences between data
items and the mean of those items will be zero i.e., (X - ) = 0. And the second
property is that if these differences between data items and the mean are squared, then
the sum of the squared deviations will be a minimum value i.e.,
minimum value.
b) The median
Some of the important characteristics of the median are:
1. It is easy to define and easy to understand. The computation and interpretation of the
median, as we have seen, is not difficult.
2. It is affected by the number of observations, but not by the value of these observations.
Thus, extremely high or low values will not distort the median.
3. It is frequently used in badly skewed distributions. The median will not be affected by the
size of the values of extreme items, and so it is a better choice than the mean when a
distribution is badly skewed.
4. It may be computed in an open-ended distribution. Since the median value is located in
the median class interval, and since that interval is virtually certain of not being openended, the median may be determined.
5. It is generally less reliable than the mean for statistical inference purposes. In the
statistical inference, we will use the mean exclusively as the measure of central tendency.

c) The mode
Some of the characteristics of the mode are:
1. It is generally a less popular measure than the mean or median.
2. It may not exist in some seats of data, or there may be more than one mode on other sets
of grouped data. A distribution with two peaks (i.e., a bimodal distribution) should
probably be reclassified into more than one distribution.
3. It can be located in an open-ended distribution.
4. It is not affected by extreme values in a distribution.