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Todays Question

Example: Dave gets a 50 on his Statistics midterm


and an 50 on his Calculus midterm. Did he do
equally well on these two exams?
Big question: How can we compare a persons score
on different variables?

Example 1
1
5

In one case, Daves exam


score is 10 points above
the mean

Statistics

Calculus

1
0

In the other case, Daves


exam score is 10 points
below the mean

In an important sense, we
must interpret Daves grade
relative to the average
performance of the class
0

20

40

60
GRADE

Mean Statistics
= 40

80

Mean Calculus
= 60

100

Example 2

2
5

3
0

Both distributions have the


same mean (40), but
different standard deviations
(10 vs. 20)

Statistics

1
0

1
5

2
0

In one case, Dave is


performing better than
almost 95% of the class. In
the other, he is performing
better than approximately
68% of the class.

Calculus

20

40

60
GRADE

80

100

Thus, how we evaluate


Daves performance
depends on how much
variability there is in the
exam scores

Standard Scores
In short, we would like to be able to express a
persons score with respect to both (a) the mean of
the group and (b) the variability of the scores
how far a person is from the mean
variability

Standard Scores
In short, we would like to be able to express a
persons score with respect to both (a) the mean of
the group and (b) the variability of the scores
how far a person is from the mean = X - M
variability = SD

Standard (Z) Scores


In short, we would like to be able to express a
persons score with respect to both (a) the mean of
the group and (b) the variability of the scores
how far a person is from the mean = X - M
variability = SD
Standard score or

(Xi M )
Zi
SD

** How far a person is from the mean, in the metric of


standard deviation units **

Example 1
1
5

Dave in Statistics:
Statistics

(50 - 40)/10 = 1

Calculus

1
0

(one SD above the


mean)

Dave in Calculus
(50 - 60)/10 = -1

(one SD below the


mean)
0

20

Mean
Statistics = 40

40

60
GRADE

80

Mean
Calculus = 60

100

Example 2

2
5

3
0

An example where the


means are identical, but
the two sets of scores
have different spreads

2
0

Statistics

1
5

Daves Stats Z-score

1
0

(50-40)/5 = 2

Daves Calc Z-score

Calculus

(50-40)/20 = .5
0

20

40

60
GRADE

80

100

Thee Properties of Standard Scores


1. The mean of a set of z-scores is always zero

Properties of Standard Scores


Why?
The mean has been subtracted from each score.
Therefore, following the definition of the mean as a
balancing point, the sum (and, accordingly, the
average) of all the deviation scores must be zero.

Three Properties of Standard Scores


2. The SD of a set of standardized scores is always 1

Why is the SD of z-scores always equal to 1.0?

M = 50

if x = 60,

SD = 10

60 50 10

1
10
10

20

30

40

50

60

70

80

-3

-2

-1

Three Properties of Standard Scores


3. The distribution of a set of standardized scores has
the same shape as the unstandardized scores
beware of the normalization misinterpretation

The shape is the same


(but the scaling or metric is different)
STANDARDIZED

0
.0

0
.1

0
.2

0
.3

0
.4

0
.5

UNSTANDARDIZED

0.4

0.6

0.8

1.0

-6

-4

-2

Two Advantages of Standard Scores


1. We can use standard scores to find centile scores:
the proportion of people with scores less than or
equal to a particular score. Centile scores are
intuitive ways of summarizing a persons location in a
larger set of scores.

0.4

The area under a normal curve

0.2

0.3

50%

0.1

34%

34%
14%

14%
0.0

2%
-4

2%
-2

0
SCORE

Two Advantages of Standard Scores


2. Standard scores provides a way to standardize or
equate different metrics. We can now interpret
Daves scores in Statistics and Calculus on the same
metric (the z-score metric). (Each score comes from
a distribution with the same mean [zero] and the
same standard deviation [1].)

Two Disadvantages of Standard Scores


1. Because a persons score is expressed relative to the
group (X - M), the same person can have different zscores when assessed in different samples
Example: If Dave had taken his Calculus exam in a
class in which everyone knew math well his z-score
would be well below the mean. If the class didnt
know math very well, however, Dave would be above
the mean. Daves score depends on everyone elses
scores.

Two Disadvantages of Standard Scores


2. If the absolute score is meaningful or of psychological
interest, it will be obscured by transforming it to a
relative metric.