Kruskal-Wallis test - overview

This page offers structured overviews of one or more selected methods. Add additional methods for comparisons by clicking on the dropdown button in the right-hand column. To practice with a specific method click the button at the bottom row of the table

Kruskal-Wallis test
Independent variable
One categorical with $I$ independent groups ($I \geqslant 2$)
Dependent variable
One categorical of ordinal level
Null hypothesis
If the dependent variable is measured on a continuous scale and the shape of the distribution of the dependent variable is the same in all $I$ populations:
  • The medians in the $I$ populations are equal
Else:
Formulation 1:
  • The scores in any of the $I$ populations are not systematically higher or lower than the scores in any of the other populations
Formulation 2:
  • P(an observation from population $g$ exceeds an observation from population $h$) = P(an observation from population $h$ exceeds an observation from population $g$), for each pair of groups.
Several different formulations of the null hypothesis can be found in the literature, and we do not agree with all of them. Make sure you (also) learn the one that is given in your text book or by your teacher.
Alternative hypothesis
If the dependent variable is measured on a continuous scale and the shape of the distribution of the dependent variable is the same in all $I$ populations:
  • Not all of the medians in the $I$ populations are equal
Else:
Formulation 1:
  • The scores in some populations are systematically higher or lower than the scores in other populations
Formulation 2:
  • For at least one pair of groups:
    P(an observation from population $g$ exceeds an observation from population $h$) $\neq$ P(an observation from population $h$ exceeds an observation from population $g$)
Assumptions
Group 1 sample is a simple random sample (SRS) from population 1, group 2 sample is an independent SRS from population 2, $\ldots$, group $I$ sample is an independent SRS from population $I$. That is, within and between groups, observations are independent of one another
Test statistic

$H = \dfrac{12}{N (N + 1)} \sum \dfrac{R^2_i}{n_i} - 3(N + 1)$

Here $N$ is the total sample size, $R_i$ is the sum of ranks in group $i$, and $n_i$ is the sample size of group $i$. Remember that multiplication precedes addition, so first compute $\frac{12}{N (N + 1)} \times \sum \frac{R^2_i}{n_i}$ and then subtract $3(N + 1)$.

Note: if ties are present in the data, the formula for $H$ is more complicated.
Sampling distribution of $H$ if H0 were true

For large samples, approximately the chi-squared distribution with $I - 1$ degrees of freedom.

For small samples, the exact distribution of $H$ should be used.

Significant?
For large samples, the table with critical $X^2$ values can be used. If we denote $X^2 = H$:
  • Check if $X^2$ observed in sample is equal to or larger than critical value $X^{2*}$ or
  • Find $p$ value corresponding to observed $X^2$ and check if it is equal to or smaller than $\alpha$
Example context
Do people from different religions tend to score differently on social economic status?
SPSS
Analyze > Nonparametric Tests > Legacy Dialogs > K Independent Samples...
  • Put your dependent variable in the box below Test Variable List and your independent (grouping) variable in the box below Grouping Variable
  • Click on the Define Range... button. If you can't click on it, first click on the grouping variable so its background turns yellow
  • Fill in the smallest value you have used to indicate your groups in the box next to Minimum, and the largest value you have used to indicate your groups in the box next to Maximum
  • Continue and click OK
Jamovi
ANOVA > One Way ANOVA - Kruskal-Wallis
  • Put your dependent variable in the box below Dependent Variables and your independent (grouping) variable in the box below Grouping Variable
Practice questions