Definitions of Variable
- (noun) A set of attributes or values.
- (noun) Any characteristic, number, or quantity that can vary among a sample or population that can be measured.
- (noun) A symbol like X or Y that represents a measurable characteristic.
Types of Variable
- American English – /vAIR-ee-uh-buhl/
- British English – /vEUH-riuh-buhl/
International Phonetic Alphabet
- American English – /ˈvɛriəbəl/
- British English – /ˈvɛːrɪəb(ə)l/
- Plural: variables
- A variable is either categorical or numerical.
- A variable is contrasted with a constant, which is a characteristic or value that does not change.
- A variable must be observable and measurable to be studied, this is achieved through operationalization.
- Also called variable quantity.
- Variables are (adjective) variable and vary (adverb) variably by exhibiting (noun) variableness and (noun) variability.
- “Experiments are designed to create ‘real-life’ situations, ideally under controlled circumstances, in which the influence of different variables can be modified and measured” (Kendall 2006:34).
- “Reductionism of any type tends to suggest that particular units of analysis or variables are more relevant than others. Suppose we ask what caused the American Revolution. Was it a shared commitment to the value of individual liberty? The economic plight of the colonies in relation to Britain? The megalomania of the founders? As soon as we inquire about the single cause, we run the risk of reductionism. If we were to regard shared values as the cause of the American Revolution, our unit of analysis would be the individual colonist. An economist, though, might choose the 13 colonies as units of analysis and examine the economic organizations and conditions of each. A psychologist might choose individual leaders as the units of analysis for purposes of examining their personalities” (Babbie 2011:109).
- Quantitative Research Resources – Books, Journals, and Helpful Links
- Word origin of “variable” – Online Etymology Dictionary: etymonline.com
- control group
- random sample
- statistical analysis
Contributor: C. E. Seaman
Babbie, Earl R. 2011. The Basics of Social Research. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
Kendall, Diana. 2006. Sociology in Our Times: The Essentials. 5th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
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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. 4th ed. 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.
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Ferrante, Joan. 2011a. Seeing Sociology: An Introduction. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
Ferrante, Joan. 2011b. Sociology: A Global Perspective. 7th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
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Fioramonti, Lorenzo. 2014. How Numbers Rule the World: The Use and Abuse of Statistics in Global Politics. London: Zed Books.
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.
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.
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Ravelli, Bruce, and Michelle Webber. 2016. Exploring Sociology: A Canadian Perspective. 3rd ed. Toronto: Pearson.
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.
Stewart, Paul, and Johan Zaaiman, eds. 2015. Sociology: A Concise South African Introduction. Cape Town: Juta.
Stolley, Kathy S. 2005. The Basics of Sociology. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.
Taylor & Francis. (N.d.) Routledge Handbooks Online. (https://www.routledgehandbooks.com/).
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.
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ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)
Seaman, C. E. 2015. “variable.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary, edited by Kenton Bell. Retrieved October 3, 2022 (https://sociologydictionary.org/variable/).
APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)
Seaman, C. E. (2015). variable. In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from https://sociologydictionary.org/variable/
Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)
Seaman, C. E. 2015. “variable.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary, edited by Kenton Bell. Accessed October 3, 2022. https://sociologydictionary.org/variable/.
MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)
Seaman, C. E. “variable.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2015. Web. 3 Oct. 2022. <https://sociologydictionary.org/variable/>.