# 9. Sampling Distributions

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1 9. Sampling Distributions Prerequisites none A. Introduction B. Sampling Distribution of the Mean C. Sampling Distribution of Difference Between Means D. Sampling Distribution of Pearson's r E. Sampling Distribution of a Proportion F. Exercises The concept of a sampling distribution is perhaps the most basic concept in inferential statistics. It is also a difficult concept because a sampling distribution is a theoretical distribution rather than an empirical distribution. The introductory section defines the concept and gives an example for both a discrete and a continuous distribution. It also discusses how sampling distributions are used in inferential statistics. The remaining sections of the chapter concern the sampling distributions of important statistics: the Sampling Distribution of the Mean, the Sampling Distribution of the Difference Between Means, the Sampling Distribution of r, and the Sampling Distribution of a Proportion. 300

2 Introduction to Sampling Distributions by David M. Lane Prerequisites Chapter 1: Distributions Chapter 1: Inferential Statistics Learning Objectives 1. Define inferential statistics 2. Graph a probability distribution for the mean of a discrete variable 3. Describe a sampling distribution in terms of all possible outcomes 4. Describe a sampling distribution in terms of repeated sampling 5. Describe the role of sampling distributions in inferential statistics 6. Define the standard error of the mean Suppose you randomly sampled 10 people from the population of women in Houston, Texas, between the ages of 21 and 35 years and computed the mean height of your sample. You would not expect your sample mean to be equal to the mean of all women in Houston. It might be somewhat lower or it might be somewhat higher, but it would not equal the population mean exactly. Similarly, if you took a second sample of 10 people from the same population, you would not expect the mean of this second sample to equal the mean of the first sample. Recall that inferential statistics concern generalizing from a sample to a population. A critical part of inferential statistics involves determining how far sample statistics are likely to vary from each other and from the population parameter. (In this example, the sample statistics are the sample means and the population parameter is the population mean.) As the later portions of this chapter show, these determinations are based on sampling distributions. Discrete Distributions We will illustrate the concept of sampling distributions with a simple example. Figure 1 shows three pool balls, each with a number on it. Suppose two of the balls are selected randomly (with replacement) and the average of their numbers is computed. All possible outcomes are shown below in Table

3 1 2 3 Figure 1. The pool balls. Table 1. All possible outcomes when two balls are sampled with replacement. Outcome Ball 1 Ball 2 Mean Notice that all the means are either 1.0, 1.5, 2.0, 2.5, or 3.0. The frequencies of these means are shown in Table 2. The relative frequencies are equal to the frequencies divided by nine because there are nine possible outcomes. Table 2. Frequencies of means for N = 2. Mean Frequency Relative Frequency

4 Figure 2 shows a relative frequency distribution of the means based on Table 2. This distribution is also a probability distribution since the Y-axis is the probability of obtaining a given mean from a sample of two balls in addition to being the relative frequency Relave Frequency (Probability) Mean Figure 2. Distribution of means for N = 2. The distribution shown in Figure 2 is called the sampling distribution of the mean. Specifically, it is the sampling distribution of the mean for a sample size of 2 (N = 2). For this simple example, the distribution of pool balls and the sampling distribution are both discrete distributions. The pool balls have only the values 1, 2, and 3, and a sample mean can have one of only five values shown in Table 2. There is an alternative way of conceptualizing a sampling distribution that will be useful for more complex distributions. Imagine that two balls are sampled (with replacement) and the mean of the two balls is computed and recorded. Then this process is repeated for a second sample, a third sample, and eventually thousands of samples. After thousands of samples are taken and the mean computed for each, a relative frequency distribution is drawn. The more samples, the closer the relative frequency distribution will come to the sampling distribution shown in Figure 2. As the number of samples approaches infinity, the relative frequency distribution will approach the sampling distribution. This means that you 303

5 can conceive of a sampling distribution as being a relative frequency distribution based on a very large number of samples. To be strictly correct, the relative frequency distribution approaches the sampling distribution as the number of samples approaches infinity. It is important to keep in mind that every statistic, not just the mean, has a sampling distribution. For example, Table 3 shows all possible outcomes for the range of two numbers (larger number minus the smaller number). Table 4 shows the frequencies for each of the possible ranges and Figure 3 shows the sampling distribution of the range. Table 3. All possible outcomes when two balls are sampled with replacement. Outcome Ball 1 Ball 2 Range

6 Table 4. Frequencies of ranges for N = 2. Range Frequency Relative Frequency Relave&Frequency&(Probability) Range Figure 3. Distribution of ranges for N = 2. It is also important to keep in mind that there is a sampling distribution for various sample sizes. For simplicity, we have been using N = 2. The sampling distribution of the range for N = 3 is shown in Figure

7 Relative(Frequency((Probability) Range Figure 4. Distribution of ranges for N = 3. Continuous Distributions In the previous section, the population consisted of three pool balls. Now we will consider sampling distributions when the population distribution is continuous. What if we had a thousand pool balls with numbers ranging from to in equal steps? (Although this distribution is not really continuous, it is close enough to be considered continuous for practical purposes.) As before, we are interested in the distribution of means we would get if we sampled two balls and computed the mean of these two balls. In the previous example, we started by computing the mean for each of the nine possible outcomes. This would get a bit tedious for this example since there are 1,000,000 possible outcomes (1,000 for the first ball x 1,000 for the second). Therefore, it is more convenient to use our second conceptualization of sampling distributions which conceives of sampling distributions in terms of relative frequency distributions. Specifically, the relative frequency distribution that would occur if samples of two balls were repeatedly taken and the mean of each sample computed. When we have a truly continuous distribution, it is not only impractical but actually impossible to enumerate all possible outcomes. Moreover, in continuous 306

8 distributions, the probability of obtaining any single value is zero. Therefore, as discussed in the section Distributions in Chapter 1, these values are called probability densities rather than probabilities. Sampling Distributions and Inferential Statistics As we stated in the beginning of this chapter, sampling distributions are important for inferential statistics. In the examples given so far, a population was specified and the sampling distribution of the mean and the range were determined. In practice, the process proceeds the other way: you collect sample data, and from these data you estimate parameters of the sampling distribution. This knowledge of the sampling distribution can be very useful. For example, knowing the degree to which means from different samples would differ from each other and from the population mean would give you a sense of how close your particular sample mean is likely to be to the population mean. Fortunately, this information is directly available from a sampling distribution. The most common measure of how much sample means differ from each other is the standard deviation of the sampling distribution of the mean. This standard deviation is called the standard error of the mean. If all the sample means were very close to the population mean, then the standard error of the mean would be small. On the other hand, if the sample means varied considerably, then the standard error of the mean would be large. To be specific, assume your sample mean were 125 and you estimated that the standard error of the mean were 5 (using a method shown in a later section). If you had a normal distribution, then it would be likely that your sample mean would be within 10 units of the population mean since most of a normal distribution is within two standard deviations of the mean. Keep in mind that all statistics have sampling distributions, not just the mean. In later sections we will be discussing the sampling distribution of the variance, the sampling distribution of the difference between means, and the sampling distribution of Pearson's correlation, among others. 307

9 Sampling Distribution of the Mean by David M. Lane Prerequisites Chapter 3: Variance Sum Law I Chapter 9: Introduction to Sampling Distributions Learning Objectives 1. State the mean and variance of the sampling distribution of the mean 2. Compute the standard error of the mean 3. State the central limit theorem The sampling distribution of the mean was defined in the section introducing sampling distributions. This section reviews some important properties of the sampling distribution of the mean. Mean The mean of the sampling distribution of the mean is the mean of the population from which the scores were sampled. Therefore, if a population has a mean μ, then the mean of the sampling distribution of the mean is also μ. The symbol μ M is used to refer to the mean of the sampling distribution of the mean. Therefore, the formula for the mean of the sampling distribution of the mean can be written as: Variance µ M = µ The variance of the sampling distribution of the mean is computed as follows: g Distribution of the Mean = That is, the variance of the sampling distribution of the mean is the population variance divided by N, the sample size (the number of scores used to compute a mean). Thus, the = larger the sample size, the smaller the variance of the sampling distribution of the mean. (optional paragraph) This expression can be derived very easily from the variance sum law. Let's begin by computing the variance of the sampling distribution of the g Distribution of difference between means = 308

10 stribution of sum the of Mean three numbers sampled from a population with variance σ 2. The variance of the sum would be σ 2 + σ 2 + σ 2. For N numbers, the variance would be Nσ 2. Since the mean is 1/N times the sum, the variance of the sampling distribution of the = mean would be 1/N 2 times the variance of the sum, which equals σ 2 /N. The standard error of the mean is the standard deviation of the sampling distribution of the mean. It is therefore the square root of the variance of the sampling distribution of the mean and can be written as: = The standard error is represented by a σ because it is a standard deviation. The stribution of subscript difference (M) indicates between that means the standard error in question is the standard error of the mean. = Central Limit Theorem The central limit theorem states that: Given a population with a finite mean µ and a finite nonzero variance σ 2, the sampling distribution of the mean = approaches a normal distribution with a mean of µ and a variance of σ 2 /N as N, the sample size, increases. The expressions for the mean and variance of the sampling distribution of the mean are not new or remarkable. What is remarkable is that regardless of the shape of the parent population, the sampling distribution of the mean approaches a normal distribution as N increases. If you have used the Central Limit Theorem = Demo, (external link; requires Java) you have already seen this for yourself. As a reminder, Figure 1 shows the results of the simulation for N = 2 and N = 10. The parent population was a uniform distribution. You can see that the distribution for N = 2 is far from a normal distribution. Nonetheless, it does show that the scores are denser in the middle than in the tails. For N = 10 the distribution is quite close to a normal distribution. Notice that the means of the two distributions are the = same, but that the spread of the distribution for N = 10 is smaller

11 ing Distribution of the Mean Figure 1. A simulation of a sampling distribution. The parent population is Figure uniform. 2 shows The blue how line closely under 16 the indicates sampling that distribution 16 the mean. of The the mean approxim normal red distribution line extends even from the when mean the plus parent and minus population one standard is very deviation. non-normal. If you closely you can see that the sampling distributions do have a slight positive ske Figure 2 shows how closely the sampling distribution of the mean approximates a larger normal the distribution sample even size, when the the closer parent the population sampling is very distribution non-normal. of If the you mean would b normal look closely distribution. you can see that the sampling distributions do have a slight positive skew. The larger the sample size, the closer the sampling distribution of the mean would be to a normal distribution. Figure 2. A simulation of a sampling distribution. The parent population is very non-normal. 310

12 Figure 2. A simulation of a sampling distribution. The parent population is very non-normal. Figure 2. A simulation of a sampling distribution. The parent population is very non-normal. Check Answer Previous Question Next Question nlinestatbook.com/2/sampling_distributions/samp_dist_mean.html 311

13 Sampling Distribution of Difference Between Means by David M. Lane Prerequisites Chapter 3: Variance Sum Law I Chapter 9: Sampling Distributions Chapter 9: Sampling Distribution of the Mean Learning Objectives 1. State the mean and variance of the sampling distribution of the difference between means 2. Compute the standard error of the difference between means 3. Compute the probability of a difference between means being above a specified value g Distribution Statistical of the analyses Mean are very often concerned with the difference between means. A typical example is an experiment designed to compare the mean of a control group with the mean of an experimental group. Inferential statistics used in the analysis of this type of experiment = depend on the sampling distribution of the difference between means. The sampling distribution of the difference between means can be thought of as the distribution that would result if we repeated the following three steps over and over again: (1) sample n 1 scores from Population 1 and n 2 scores from Population 2, (2) compute the means of the two samples (M 1 and M 2 ), and (3) compute the difference = between means, M 1 - M 2. The distribution of the differences between means is the sampling distribution of the difference between means. As you might expect, the mean of the sampling distribution of the difference g Distribution between of difference means is: between means = = which says that the mean of the distribution of differences between sample means is equal to the difference between population means. For example, say that the mean test score of all 12-year-olds in a population is 34 and the mean of 10-yearolds is 25. If numerous samples were taken from each age group and the mean 312

14 ution of difference between means = difference computed each time, the mean of these numerous differences between sample means would be = 9. From the variance sum law, we know that: = which says that the variance of the sampling distribution of the difference between means is equal to the variance of the sampling distribution of the mean for Population 1 plus the variance of the sampling distribution of the mean for Population 2. Recall the formula for the variance of the sampling distribution of the mean: = Since we have two populations and two samples sizes, we need to distinguish between the two variances and sample sizes. We do this by using the subscripts 1 and 2. Using this convention, we can write the formula for the variance of the sampling distribution of the difference between means as: = + Since the standard error of a sampling distribution is the standard deviation of the sampling distribution, the standard error of the difference between means is: Just to review the notation, the symbol on the left contains a sigma (σ), which means it is a standard deviation. The subscripts M 1 - M 2 indicate that it is the standard deviation of the sampling distribution of M 1 - M 2. Now let's look at an application of this formula. Assume there are two species of green beings on Mars. The mean height of Species 1 is 32 while the mean height of Species 2 is 22. The variances of the two species are 60 and 70, 313

15 respectively, and the heights of both species are normally distributed. You randomly sample 10 members of Species 1 and 14 members of Species 2. What is the probability that the mean of the 10 members of Species 1 will exceed the mean of the 14 members of Species 2 by 5 or more? Without doing any calculations, you probably know that the probability is pretty high since the difference in population means is 10. But what exactly is the probability? First, let s determine the sampling distribution of the difference between means. Using the formulas above, the mean is = = 10 g Distribution of Difference Between Means = = 10 The standard error is: The sampling distribution = 60 = is shown in Figure 1. Notice that it is normally di a mean of 10 and a standard = deviation of The area above 5 is shad 14 = Figure The sampling 1. The distribution sampling is shown distribution in Figure 1. Notice that it is normally of the difference between means. distributed with a mean of 10 and a standard deviation of The area above 5 is shaded blue. = + = + = 2 = + = + = 2 Figure 1. The sampling distribution = 2 = (2)(64) of the difference between means. The = 4 The last step is to is determine to determine the area 8the that is area shaded that blue. is Using shaded either blue. a Z table Using or either a Z normal the normal calculator, the area can = 2 = (2)(64) can be determined be determined to be to Thus be the probability Thus the prob that the mean of the sample from Species 1 will exceed the mean of the sample the mean of the from Species = 4 2 will exceed the mean of the sampl from Species 2 by 5 or more is Species 1 by 5 or more is As shown below, the formula for the standard error of the difference between As shown means is below, much simpler the formula if the sample for sizes the standard the population error variances of the difference b mpling Distribution of Pearson s r means is much simpler if the sample sizes and the population variances are the variances and samples sizes are the same, there is no need 314to use the ling Distribution and 2 to differentiate of Pearson s these r terms.

16 = = = = are equal. When the variances and samples sizes are the same, there is no need to use the subscripts 1 and 2 to differentiate these terms. = = 14 = = + = 2 This simplified version of the formula can be used for the following problem: The mean height of 15-year-old boys (in cm) is 175 and the variance is 64. For girls, the mean is 165 and the variance is 64. If eight boys and eight girls were sampled, = what is the probability that the mean height of the sample of girls would be higher than the mean height of the sample of boys? In other words, what is the probability that the mean height of girls minus the mean height of boys is greater than 0? As before, the problem can be solved in terms of the sampling distribution of the difference between means (girls - boys). The mean of the distribution is = -10. The standard deviation of the distribution is: g Distribution of Difference Between Means + = + = 2 = 2 = (2)(64) = 4 8 mean height for girls would be higher than the mean height for boys since in population boys Sampling Distribution = 2 are of Pearson s r = quite (2)(64) a bit taller. Nonetheless it is not inconceivable tha = 4 mean could be higher than 8 the boys' mean. Figure 2. Sampling distribution of the difference between mean heights. ng Distribution of Pearson s r A graph of the distribution is shown in Figure 2. It is clear that it is unlikely that the mean height for girls would be higher than the mean height for boys since in the population boys are quite a bit taller. Nonetheless it is not inconceivable that the girls' mean could be higher than the boys' mean. Figure 2. Sampling distribution of the difference between mean heights. A difference between means of 0 or higher is a difference of 10/4 = 2.5 deviations above the mean of -10. The probability of a score 2.5 or more st deviations above the mean is

17 A difference between means of 0 or higher is a difference of 10/4 = 2.5 standard deviations above the mean of -10. The probability of a score 2.5 or more standard deviations above the mean is

18 Sampling Distribution of Pearson's r by David M. Lane Prerequisites Chapter 4: Values of the Pearson Correlation Chapter 9: Introduction to Sampling Distributions Learning Objectives 1. State how the shape of the sampling distribution of r deviates from normality 2. Transform r to z' 3. Compute the standard error of z' 4. Calculate the probability of obtaining an r above a specified value Assume that the correlation between quantitative and verbal SAT scores in a given population is In other words, ρ = If 12 students were sampled randomly, the sample correlation, r, would not be exactly equal to Naturally different samples of 12 students would yield different values of r. The distribution of values of r after repeated samples of 12 students is the sampling distribution of r. The shape of the sampling distribution of r for the above example is shown in Figure 1. You can see that the sampling distribution is not symmetric: it is negatively skewed. The reason for the skew is that r cannot take on values greater than 1.0 and therefore the distribution cannot extend as far in the positive direction as it can in the negative direction. The greater the value of ρ, the more pronounced the skew. 317

19 Distribution of Pearson's r Figure 2 shows the sampling distribution for ρ = This distribution has a v positive tail and a long negative tail Figure 1. The sampling distribution of r for N = 12 and p = Figure 2. The sampling distribution of Figure r for 2 N shows = 12 the and sampling ρ = distribution for ρ = This distribution has a very short positive tail and a long negative tail. Figure 2. The sampling distribution of r for N = 12 and p = Referring back back to the to SAT the example, SAT example, suppose you suppose wanted to you know wanted the probability to know the prob that that in in a a sample of of 1219 students, the sample the value sample of r value would be of 0.75 r would or higher. be You 0.75 or higher might might think that all all you you would would need need to know to to know compute to this compute probability this is probability the is the and standard error of the sampling distribution of r. However, since the samplin distribution is not normal, you would still not be able to solve the problem. Fort the statistician Fisher developed a way to transform r to a variable that is norm 318

20 mean and standard error of the sampling distribution of r. However, since the sampling distribution is not normal, you would still not be able to solve the problem. Fortunately, the statistician Fisher developed a way to transform r to a variable that is normally distributed with a known standard error. The variable is called z' and the formula for the transformation is given below. z' = 0.5 ln[(1+r)/(1-r)] The details of the formula are not important here since normally you will use either a table or calculator (external link) to do the transformation. What is important is that z' is normally distributed and has a standard error of 1 3 where N is the number of pairs of scores. Let's return to the question of determining the probability of getting a sample correlation of 0.75 or above in a sample of 12 from a population with a correlation istribution of of a Proportion The first step is to convert both 0.60 and 0.75 to their z' values, which are and 0.973, respectively. The standard error of z' for N = 12 is Therefore, the question is reduced to the following: given a normal distribution with a mean of and a standard deviation of 0.333, what is the probability of obtaining a value of or higher? The answer can be found directly from the normal calculator (external link) to be Alternatively, you could use the formula: (1 ) z = (X - µ)/σ = ( )/0.333 = and use a table to find that the area above is = (1 ) (1 ) = 0.60(1.60) = =

21 Sampling Distribution of p by David M. Lane Prerequisites Chapter 5: Binomial Distribution Chapter 7: Normal Approximation to the Binomial Chapter 9: Introduction to Sampling Distributions Learning Objectives 1. Compute the mean and standard deviation of the sampling distribution of p 2. State the relationship between the sampling distribution of p and the normal distribution Assume that in an election race between Candidate A and Candidate B, 0.60 of the voters prefer Candidate A. If a random sample of 10 voters were polled, it is unlikely that exactly 60% of them (6) would prefer Candidate A. By chance the proportion in the sample preferring Candidate A could easily be a little lower than 0.60 or a little higher than The sampling distribution of p is the distribution that would result if you repeatedly sampled 10 voters and determined the proportion (p) that favored Candidate A. The sampling distribution of p is a special case of the sampling distribution of the mean. Table 1 shows a hypothetical random sample of 10 voters. Those who prefer Candidate A are given scores of 1 and those who prefer Candidate B are given scores of 0. Note that seven of the voters prefer candidate A so the sample proportion (p) is p = 7/10 = 0.70 As you can see, p is the mean of the 10 preference scores. 320

22 Table 1. Sample of voters. Voter Preference The distribution of p is closely related to the binomial distribution. The binomial distribution is the distribution of the total number of successes (favoring Candidate A, for example), whereas the distribution of p is the distribution of the mean number of successes. The mean, of course, is the total divided by the sample size, N. Therefore, the 1 sampling distribution of p and the binomial distribution differ in that p is the mean of 3the scores (0.70) and the binomial distribution is dealing with the total number of successes (7). The binomial distribution has a mean of µ = Nπ Distribution of a Proportion Dividing by N to adjust for the fact that the sampling distribution of p is dealing with means instead of totals, we find that the mean of the sampling distribution of p is: µ p = π The standard deviation of the binomial distribution is: (1 ) 321

23 (1 ) (1 ) oportion Dividing by N because p is a mean not a total, we find the standard error of p: (1 ) = (1 ) = (1 ) = = (1 ) Returning to the voter example, π = 0.60 (Don't confuse π = 0.60, the population proportion, with p = 0.70, the sample proportion) and N = 10. Therefore, the mean of the sampling distribution of p is The standard error is The sampling distribution of p is approximately normally distributed if N is f 0.60(1.60) rge and π is not = 0.60(1.60) = close = to 0 10 or 1. A = rule of thumb is that the approximation is ood if both N π and N(1-10 π) are both greater than 10. The sampling distribut or the voter example is shown in Figure 1. Note that even though N(1 - π) is o The sampling distribution of p is a discrete rather than a continuous distribution. For example, with an N of 10, it is possible to have a p of 0.50 or a p of 0.60, but not a p of The sampling distribution of p is approximately normally distributed if N is fairly large and π is not close to 0 or 1. A rule of thumb is that the approximation is good if both Nπ and N(1 - π) are greater than 10. The sampling distribution for the voter example is shown in Figure 1. Note that even though N(1 - π) is only 4, the approximation is quite good., the approximation is quite good. Figure 1. The sampling distribution of p. Vertical bars are the probabilities; the smooth curve is the normal approximation. Figure 1. The sampling distribution of p. Vertical bars are the probabilities; the smooth curve is the normal approximation. Check Answer Previous Question Next Question Question 1 out of

24 Statistical Literacy by David M. Lane Prerequisites Chapter 9: Introduction Chapter 9: Sampling Distribution of the Mean The monthly jobs report always gets a lot of attention. Presidential candidates refer to the report when it favors their position. Referring to the August 2012 report in which only 96,000 jobs were created, Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney stated "the weak jobs report is devastating news for American workers and American families... a harsh indictment of the president's handling of the economy." When the September 2012 report was released showing 114,000 jobs were created (and the previous report was revised upwards), some supporters of Romney claimed the data were tampered with for political reasons. The most famous statement, "Unbelievable jobs numbers...these Chicago guys will do anything..can't debate so change numbers," was made by former Chairman and CEO of General Electric. What do you think? The standard error of the monthly estimate is 100,000. Given that, what do you think of the difference between the two job reports? The difference between the two reports is very small given that the standard error is 100,000. It is not sensible to take any single jobs report too seriously. 323

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