Which Type of Data Are Normally Used in Parametric Statistics?


Scott Campbell

Parametric statistics is a branch of statistics that deals with data that follows a specific distribution. In parametric statistics, the type of data used is crucial in determining the appropriate statistical tests and methods to apply. Understanding the types of data commonly used in parametric statistics is essential for conducting accurate statistical analysis.

Continuous Data

Continuous data refers to numerical data that can take on any value within a range. This type of data is often measured on a continuous scale and can include measurements such as height, weight, temperature, and time. Continuous data is typically analyzed using parametric statistical tests such as t-tests, analysis of variance (ANOVA), and regression analysis.

Discrete Data

Discrete data consists of individual values or categories that are distinct and separate from each other. This type of data can only take on specific values and cannot be measured on a continuous scale.

Examples of discrete data include the number of children in a family, the number of defects in a product, or the outcome of a coin toss. Parametric statistical tests for discrete data include chi-square tests and logistic regression.

Interval Data

Interval data is similar to continuous data but without a meaningful zero point on the measurement scale. The intervals between values are meaningful, but there is no true zero point.

Examples of interval data include temperature measured in Celsius or Fahrenheit or Likert scale ratings where respondents rate their agreement on a scale from 1 to 5. Parametric statistical tests like t-tests and ANOVA can be used with interval data.

Ratio Data

Ratio data is similar to interval data but has a meaningful zero point on the measurement scale. In ratio data, ratios and proportions between values are meaningful.

Examples of ratio data include height, weight, income, and time. Parametric statistical tests such as t-tests, ANOVA, and regression analysis can be used with ratio data.

Normality Assumption

When working with parametric statistics, it is important to consider the normality assumption. Many parametric tests assume that the data follows a normal distribution. This means that the data is symmetrically distributed around the mean with a bell-shaped curve.

Checking for normality can be done using graphical methods such as histograms or quantile-quantile (Q-Q) plots. If the data does not follow a normal distribution, transformations or non-parametric tests may be more appropriate.


In parametric statistics, different types of data are used depending on their nature and measurement scale. Continuous data, discrete data, interval data, and ratio data each require specific statistical techniques for analysis. Understanding the type of data and considering the normality assumption is crucial for selecting appropriate parametric statistical tests.

Remember: Always validate your assumptions and choose statistical tests accordingly to ensure accurate and reliable results.

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