# Point Biserial Correlation Tests

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1 Chapter 807 Point Biserial Correlation Tests Introduction The point biserial correlation coefficient (ρ in this chapter) is the product-moment correlation calculated between a continuous random variable (Y) and a binary random variable (X). This correlation is related to, but different from, the biserial correlation proposed by Karl Pearson. In psychology, the point biserial correlation is often used as a measure of the degree of association between a trait or attribute and a measureable characteristic such as an ability to accomplish something. Since it is a correlation, ρ ranges between plus and minus one. However, because of the discrete variable, the actual upper limit may be far less than one. When ρ is used as a descriptive statistic, no special distributional assumptions need to be made about the variables (Y and X). When hypothesis tests are made, it is assumed that the observation pairs are independent and that the values of Y are distributed normally conditional on the value of X. The distribution of Y when X =1 is normal with mean μ 1 and variance σ 2, while the distribution of Y when X = 0 is normal with mean μ 0 and variance also σ 2. If X is the result of a Bernoulli trial with probability of success (X = 1) p, then the design is said to be random. If X is set in advance, then the design is said to be fixed. Difference between Linear Regression and Correlation The point biserial correlation coefficient discussed in this chapter assumes that both X and Y are random variables. In the linear regression context, no statement is made about the distribution of X. In fact, X is not even a random variable. Instead, the values of X are set as part of the design. For example, a design might call for 20 men and 20 women to be included. Even though the same formula is used in this case, the results follow a different distribution with different sample size requirements. The analysis would then be termed linear regression and that procedure should be used to determine sample size and power. Technical Details The following results are found in Lev(1949) and Tate (1954). A random sample of n subjects is measured for the presence or absence of the trait (X) and the level of an ability (Y). This gives rise to n pairs of observations: (X i, Y i ), i = 1, 2,, n. Sample Point Biserial Correlation Coefficient The point biserial correlation coefficient, r, is calculated using the common product-moment correlation 807-1

2 (X X )(Y Y ) r = (X X ) 2 (Y Y ) 2 (Y 1 Y 0 ) n 1n 0 n = n i=1(y i Y ) 2 Random Design If it is assumed that 1. The binomial variable X takes on the value 1 with probability p and 0 with probability q = 1 p. 2. The condition distribution of Y given X = 1 is N(μ 1, σ) and the condition distribution of Y given X = 0 is N(μ 0, σ). The Tate (1954) provides results for the test statistic t calculated as t = r n 2 1 r 2 When ρ is 0, t follows Student s t distribution with n 2 degrees of freedom. When ρ is not 0, the distribution of t is a weighted sum of non-central t distributions each with degrees of freedom n 2 and noncentrality parameter δ R given by δ R = The weights are based on the binomial distribution of X. ρ 1 ρ n 1n 0 2 npq Thus, the power of an upper, one-sided test of H 0 : ρ = ρ 0 vs H 1 : ρ > ρ 0 computed at ρ = ρ 1 is n φ(p, ρ 1 ) = n n 1 n 1 =0 p n 1q n 0 h(t; n 1, n, p, ρ 1 )dt t α where h( ) is the density of the non-central t distribution with n 2 degrees of freedom and non-centrality δ R, and t α is chosen so that φ(p, ρ 0 ) = α. The sample size can be solved from the power function using a binary search algorithm. Procedure Options This section describes the options that are specific to this procedure. These are located on the Design tab. For more information about the options of other tabs, go to the Procedure Window chapter. Design Tab The Design tab contains most of the parameters and options that you will be concerned with. Solve For Solve For This option specifies the parameter to be calculated from the values of the other parameters. Under most conditions, you would either select Power or Sample Size

3 Select Sample Size when you want to determine the sample size needed to achieve a given power and alpha error level. Select Power when you want to calculate the power. Dichotomous Variable Type Assume X s are This option specifies whether the X s are Random or Fixed. Select Random when X is the realization of a chance event. Select Fixed when X is set for each row by the experimenter (no chance event). Test Direction Alternative Hypothesis This option specifies the alternative hypothesis. This implicitly specifies the direction of the hypothesis test. The null hypothesis is H 0 : ρ0 = ρ1. Note that the alternative hypothesis enters into power calculations by specifying the rejection region of the hypothesis test. Its accuracy is critical. Possible selections for H 1 are: ρ1 ρ0 This is the most common selection. It yields the two-tailed test. Use this option when you are testing whether the correlation values are different, but you do not want to specify beforehand which correlation is larger. ρ1< ρ0 This option yields a one-tailed test. ρ1> ρ0 This option also yields a one-tailed test. Power and Alpha Power This option specifies one or more values for power. Power is the probability of rejecting a false null hypothesis, and is equal to one minus Beta. Beta is the probability of a type-ii error, which occurs when a false null hypothesis is not rejected. In this procedure, a type-ii error occurs when you fail to reject the null hypothesis of equal correlations when in fact they are different. Values must be between zero and one. Historically, the value of 0.80 (Beta = 0.20) was used for power. Now, 0.90 (Beta = 0.10) is also commonly used. A single value may be entered here or a range of values such as 0.8 to 0.95 by 0.05 may be entered. Alpha This option specifies one or more values for the probability of a type-i error. A type-i error occurs when you reject the null hypothesis of equal correlations when in fact they are equal. Values of alpha must be between zero and one. Historically, the value of 0.05 has been used for alpha. This means that about one test in twenty will falsely reject the null hypothesis. You should pick a value for alpha that represents the risk of a type-i error you are willing to take in your experimental situation

4 You may enter a range of values such as or 0.01 to 0.10 by Sample Size N (Sample Size) This option specifies the number of observations in the sample. Each observation is made up of two values: an X value of 0 or 1 and a continuous Y value. The minimum value is 4. Point Biserial Correlations ρ0 (Correlation H0) Specify the value of ρ0. Note that the range of the correlation is between plus and minus one. This value is usually set to zero. ρ1 (Correlation H1) Specify the value of ρ1, the population correlation under the alternative hypothesis. Note that the range of the correlation is between plus and minus one. The difference between ρ0 and ρ1 is being tested by this significance test. You can enter a range of values separated by blanks or commas. Dichotomous Variable (X) P (Probability X = 1) Specify the value of p, the probability that X = 1 when you have a random design. Since this is a probability, it must be between 0 and

5 Example 1 Finding the Power Suppose a study will be run to test whether the point biserial correlation between a random binary variable (X) and continuous variable (Y) is significantly different from zero. The researchers want to investigate what the power will be for a variety of sample sizes (5, 10, 20, 40, 80, 140, 200, 250) when alpha is They want to calculate the power when ρ1 is actually 0.2, 0.4, and 0.6. Setup This section presents the values of each of the parameters needed to run this example. First, from the PASS Home window, load the procedure window by expanding Correlation, then Correlation, then clicking on Test (Inequality), and then clicking on. You may then make the appropriate entries as listed below, or open Example 1 by going to the File menu and choosing Open Example Template. Option Value Design Tab Solve For... Power Assume X s are... Random Alternative Hypothesis... ρ0 ρ1 Alpha N (Sample Size) ρ0 (Correlation H0) ρ1 (Correlation H1) Plots Tab 2D Plots X-Y Plots... Click the Plot Setup button (Scatter Plot Format window appears) Y Axis Tab... Click on this tab. Y Axis Vertical appears Axis: Min:... Set to 0 Axis: Max:... Set to 1 OK button... Click to save the settings and close this window Plots Tab 3D Plots X-Y-Z Plots... Click the Plot Setup button (3D Surface Plot Format window appears) 3D Surfact Plot Tab... Click on this tab. 3D Surface Plot window appears Point Symbols... Uncheck this option Y Axis Tab... Click on this tab. Y Axis Vertical appears Axis: Min:... Set to 0 Axis: Max:... Set to 1 OK button... Click to save the settings and close this window Annotated Output Click the Calculate button to perform the calculations and generate the following output

6 Numeric Results Numeric Results Assuming the Dichotomous Variable is Random and H1: ρ0 ρ1 Point Point Sample Biserial Biserial Prob Size Corr H0 Corr H1 X=1 Power N ρ0 ρ1 Alpha P Report Definitions Power is the probability of rejecting a false null hypothesis. N is the size of the sample drawn from the population. ρ0 is the value of the point biserial correlation under the null hypothesis (H0). ρ1 is the value of the point biserial correlation under the alternative hypothesis (H1). Alpha is the probability of rejecting a true null hypothesis. P is the probability that the dichotomous X = 1. Summary Statements A sample size of 5 achieves 6% power to detect the difference between the null hypothesis point biserial correlation of and the alternative hypothesis point biserial correlation of using a two-sided hypothesis test with a significance level of The probability that the dichotomous variable will be equal to 1 is assumed to be This report shows the values of each of the parameters, one scenario per row. The values from this table are plotted in the charts below. Plots Section These charts show both a two-dimensional and a three-dimensional depiction of the relationship between power, sample size, and ρ

7 Example 2 Validation using Tate Tate (1955) page 1083 presents an example in which the power of a point biserial correlation coefficient is calculated. This example sets N = 10, alpha = 0.10, p = 1/3, ρ0 = 0, and ρ1 = Tate calculates a power of 83.2% for a two-sided test. Setup This section presents the values of each of the parameters needed to run this example. First, from the PASS Home window, load the procedure window by expanding Correlation, then Correlation, then clicking on Test (Inequality), and then clicking on. You may then make the appropriate entries as listed below, or open Example 1 by going to the File menu and choosing Open Example Template. Option Value Design Tab Solve For... Power Assume X s are... Random Alternative Hypothesis... ρ0 ρ1 Alpha N (Sample Size) ρ0 (Correlation H0) ρ1 (Correlation H1) Output Click the Calculate button to perform the calculations and generate the following output. Numeric Results Numeric Results Assuming the Dichotomous Variable is Random and H1: ρ0 ρ1 Point Point Sample Biserial Biserial Prob Size Corr H0 Corr H1 X=1 Power N ρ0 ρ1 Alpha P The power of matches Tate s results to two decimal places. This is very good considering Tate explains in the article that they were using an approximation for the non-central t distribution

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