What Type of Data Do You Use for a Chi-Square Table?


Scott Campbell

What Type of Data Do You Use for a Chi-Square Table?

Chi-square tests are statistical tools used to determine the association between categorical variables. These tests are often employed in various fields such as social sciences, market research, and medical studies. Before conducting a chi-square test, it is crucial to understand the type of data that is suitable for analysis using a chi-square table.

Types of Data Suitable for Chi-Square Tests

Nominal Data:

Nominal data consists of categories without any inherent order or ranking. Examples include gender (male/female), color choices (red/blue/green), or favorite food (pizza/burger/sushi). Chi-square tests can be used to assess the relationship between two or more nominal variables.

Ordinal Data:

Ordinal data represents categories with an inherent order or ranking. For example, rating scales such as “strongly disagree,” “disagree,” “neutral,” “agree,” and “strongly agree” fall under ordinal data. While chi-square tests can be used with ordinal data, they do not take into account the magnitude of differences between categories.

Data Collection and Preparation

To use a chi-square table effectively, you need to collect and organize your data appropriately:

  1. Identify Variables: Determine the categorical variables you want to analyze using the chi-square test.
  2. Create Categories: Group your data into categories that make sense for your analysis. This step is particularly important when dealing with nominal or ordinal data.
  3. Data Entry: Enter your dataset into a spreadsheet or statistical software program, ensuring each variable has its own column.
  4. Tabulate Data: Count the number of observations in each category and record these counts in your dataset.


Let’s say we want to analyze the relationship between gender and favorite food among a group of individuals (males and females). We collect data from 100 participants and categorize their favorite food choices as pizza, burger, or sushi. The data entry for this example would look like:

Pizza Burger Sushi
Male 20 15 10
Female 25 18 12

In this example, we have two categorical variables: gender (male/female) and favorite food (pizza/burger/sushi). We tabulate the data by counting the number of males and females who prefer each food choice.

Inference from Chi-Square Table Results

The chi-square test results obtained from a chi-square table help us determine whether there is an association or independence between the variables being analyzed. The calculated chi-square value is compared to the critical value corresponding to the desired level of significance.

If the calculated value exceeds the critical value, we can conclude that there is a significant relationship between the variables. On the other hand, if it does not exceed the critical value, we conclude that there is no significant relationship.

Remember that the chi-square test does not provide information about the strength or direction of the relationship. It simply indicates whether a relationship exists or not.


When conducting a chi-square test, it is important to use appropriate data types such as nominal or ordinal data. By organizing your data correctly and using a chi-square table, you can analyze categorical variables and determine if there is an association between them. Remember to interpret the results carefully, considering the significance level and the purpose of your analysis.

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