What Type of Data Is Categorical Ordinal?


Heather Bennett

In the field of statistics and data analysis, it is important to understand the different types of data. One such type is categorical ordinal data. Categorical ordinal data is a type of data that falls under the broader category of categorical data, which represents variables that can be divided into distinct groups or categories.

What is Categorical Ordinal Data?

Categorical ordinal data differs from other types of categorical data in that it has a natural order or hierarchy among its categories. In other words, the categories can be ranked or ordered in some meaningful way.

For example, let’s consider a survey that asks respondents to rate their satisfaction with a product on a scale from 1 to 5, where 1 represents “Very Dissatisfied” and 5 represents “Very Satisfied.” The responses collected from this survey would constitute categorical ordinal data because the categories (levels of satisfaction) have an inherent order.

Examples of Categorical Ordinal Data

There are numerous examples of categorical ordinal data in various fields:

  • Educational Qualifications: Categories such as “High School Diploma,” “Bachelor’s Degree,” and “Master’s Degree” can be ordered based on the level of education achieved.
  • Income Levels: Income categories like “Low Income,” “Middle Income,” and “High Income” can be arranged in an order based on income brackets.
  • Ratings and Reviews: Ratings given on a scale from poor to excellent, or reviews categorized as “Bad,” “Fair,” “Good,” and “Excellent” are examples of categorical ordinal data.

Analyzing Categorical Ordinal Data

Analyzing categorical ordinal data requires different statistical techniques compared to other types of data. Since the categories have an order, it is possible to calculate measures such as median and mode. However, calculating an average or mean is not appropriate because the numerical values assigned to the categories are arbitrary and do not have a meaningful interpretation in terms of quantity.

Additionally, when analyzing categorical ordinal data, it is important to consider the sample size within each category. If a particular category has a small sample size, it may not provide reliable insights or allow for meaningful comparisons.


Categorical ordinal data is a type of data that has ordered categories. It allows for meaningful comparisons and analysis within these categories. Understanding the nature of categorical ordinal data is essential for conducting accurate statistical analyses and drawing reliable conclusions in various fields.

So next time you come across data that involves ranking or ordering, remember that you are dealing with categorical ordinal data!

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