Home > I Words > independent variable

independent variable

Definition of Independent Variable

(noun) In statistical analysis, the variable that is changed in an experiment.

Example of Independent Variable

Independent Variable Pronunciation

Pronunciation Usage Guide

Syllabification: in·de·pen·dent var·i·a·ble

Audio Pronunciation

– American English
– British English

Phonetic Spelling

  • American English – /in-duh-pEn-duhnt vAIR-ee-uh-buhl/
  • British English – /in-di-pEn-duhnt vEUH-riuh-buhl/

International Phonetic Alphabet

  • American English – /ˌɪndɪˈpɛndənt ˈvɛriəbəl/
  • British English – /ˌɪndɪˈpɛndənt ˈveərɪəbl/

Usage Notes

  • Plural: independent variables
  • In a mathematical equation, the independent variable is typically represented by the letter “X.”
  • Sociologists typically cannot manipulate the independent variable because of ethical concerns and rely on variations that occur naturally.
  • Also called:
    • causal variable
    • experimental variable
    • explanatory variable
    • predictor variable

Related Video

Additional Information

Related Terms

Contributor: C. E. Seaman


Works Consulted

Andersen, Margaret L., and Howard Francis Taylor. 2011. Sociology: The Essentials. 6th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Babbie, Earl. 2013. The Practice of Social Research. 13th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Bilton, Tony, Kevin Bonnett, Pip Jones, David Skinner, Michelle Stanworth, and Andrew Webster. 1996. Introductory Sociology. 3rd ed. London: Macmillan.

Branscombe, Nyla R., and Robert A. Baron. 2017. Social Psychology. 14th ed. Harlow, England: Pearson.

Brinkerhoff, David, Lynn White, Suzanne Ortega, and Rose Weitz. 2011. Essentials of Sociology. 8th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Brym, Robert J., and John Lie. 2007. Sociology: Your Compass for a New World. 3rd ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Bryman, Alan. 2012. Social Research Methods. New York: Oxford University Press.

Burdess, Neil. 2010. Starting Statistics: A Short, Clear Guide. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

Cramer, Duncan and Dennis Howitt. 2004. The SAGE Dictionary of Statistics: A Practical Resource for Students in the Social Sciences. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

Crooks, Robert, and Karla Baur. 2014. Our Sexuality. 12th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Farlex. (N.d.) TheFreeDictionary.com: Dictionary, Encyclopedia and Thesaurus. Farlex. (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/).

Ferrante, Joan. 2011a. Seeing Sociology: An Introduction. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Ferrante, Joan. 2011b. Sociology: A Global Perspective. 7th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Ferris, Kerry, and Jill Stein. 2010. The Real World: An Introduction to Sociology. 2nd ed. New York: Norton.

Fioramonti, Lorenzo. 2014. How Numbers Rule the World: The Use and Abuse of Statistics in Global Politics. London: Zed Books.

Griffiths, Heather, Nathan Keirns, Eric Strayer, Susan Cody-Rydzewski, Gail Scaramuzzo, Tommy Sadler, Sally Vyain, Jeff Bry, Faye Jones. 2016. Introduction to Sociology 2e. Houston, TX: OpenStax.

Henslin, James M. 2012. Sociology: A Down-to-Earth Approach. 10th ed. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Hughes, Michael, and Carolyn J. Kroehler. 2011. Sociology: The Core. 10th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Kendall, Diane. 2011. Sociology in Our Times. 8th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Kimmel, Michael S., and Amy Aronson. 2012. Sociology Now. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Kornblum, William. 2008. Sociology in a Changing World. 8th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Larson, Ron, and Elizabeth Farber. 2015. Elementary Statistics: Picturing the World. 6th ed. Boston: Pearson.

Macionis, John. 2012. Sociology. 14th ed. Boston: Pearson.

Macionis, John, and Kenneth Plummer. 2012. Sociology: A Global Introduction. 4th ed. Harlow, England: Pearson Education.

Marsh, Ian, and Mike Keating, eds. 2006. Sociology: Making Sense of Society. 3rd ed. Harlow, England: Pearson Education.

Oxford University Press. (N.d.) Oxford Dictionaries. (https://www.oxforddictionaries.com/).

Salkind, Neil J., ed. 2007. Encyclopedia of Measurement and Statistics. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

Schaefer, Richard. 2013. Sociology: A Brief Introduction. 10th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Shepard, Jon M. 2010. Sociology. 11th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Shepard, Jon M., and Robert W. Greene. 2003. Sociology and You. New York: Glencoe.

Thompson, William E., and Joseph V. Hickey. 2012. Society in Focus: An Introduction to Sociology. 7th ed. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Tischler, Henry L. 2011. Introduction to Sociology. 10th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Weinstein, Jay A. 2010. Applying Social Statistics: An Introduction to Quantitative Reasoning in Sociology. Lanham, Md: Rowman & Littlefield.

Wikipedia contributors. (N.d.) Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation. (https://en.wikipedia.org/).

Wikipedia contributors. (N.d.) Wiktionary, The Free Dictionary. Wikimedia Foundation. (http://en.wiktionary.org).

Wiley. (N.d.) Wiley Online Library. (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/).

Cite the Definition of Independent Variable

ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)

Seaman, C. E. 2015. “independent variable.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary, edited by Kenton Bell. Retrieved April 9, 2020 (https://sociologydictionary.org/independent-variable/).

APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)

Seaman, C. E. (2015). independent variable. In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from https://sociologydictionary.org/independent-variable/

Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)

Seaman, C. E. 2015. “independent variable.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary, edited by Kenton Bell. Accessed April 9, 2020. https://sociologydictionary.org/independent-variable/.

MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)

Seaman, C. E. “independent variable.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2015. Web. 9 Apr. 2020. <https://sociologydictionary.org/independent-variable/>.