McNemar's test - overview

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McNemar's test
Independent variable
2 paired groups
Dependent variable
One categorical with 2 independent groups
Null hypothesis

For each pair of scores, the data allow four options:

  1. First score of pair is 0, second score of pair is 0
  2. First score of pair is 0, second score of pair is 1 (switched)
  3. First score of pair is 1, second score of pair is 0 (switched)
  4. First score of pair is 1, second score of pair is 1
Null hypothesis is that for each pair of scores:
  • P(first score of pair is 0 while second score of pair is 1) = P(first score of pair is 1 while second score of pair is 0)
That is, the probability that a pair of scores switches from 0 to 1 is the same as the probability that a pair of scores switches from 1 to 0.

Other formulations of the null hypothesis are :

  • $\pi_1 = \pi_2$, where $\pi_1$ is the population proportion of ones in the first paired group and $\pi_2$ is the population proportion of ones in the second paired group
  • For each pair of scores, P(first score of pair is 1) = P(second score of pair is 1)

Alternative hypothesis

Alternative hypothesis is that for each pair of scores:

  • P(first score of pair is 0 while second score of pair is 1) $\neq$ P(first score of pair is 1 while second score of pair is 0)
That is, the probability that a pair of scores switches from 0 to 1 is not the same as the probability that a pair of scores switches from 1 to 0.

Other formulations of the alternative hypothesis are that, for each pair of scores:

  • $\pi_1 \neq \pi_2$
  • For each pair of scores, P(first score of pair is 1) $\neq$ P(second score of pair is 1)

Assumptions
Sample of pairs is a simple random sample from the population of pairs. That is, pairs are independent of one another
Test statistic
$X^2 = \dfrac{(b - c)^2}{b + c}$
$b$ is the number of pairs in the sample for which the first score is 0 while the second score is 1, and $c$ is the number of pairs in the sample for which the first score is 1 while the second score is 0
Sampling distribution of $X^2$ if H0 were true

If $b + c$ is large enough (say, > 20), approximately a chi-squared distribution with 1 degree of freedom.

If $b + c$ is small, the binomial($n$, $p$) distribution should be used, with $n = b + c$ and $p = 0.5$. In that case the test statistic becomes equal to $b$.

Significant?
For test statistic $X^2$:
  • 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 $\alpha$
If $b + c$ is small, the table for the binomial distribution should be used, with as test statistic $b$:
  • Check if $b$ observed in sample is in the rejection region or
  • Find two sided $p$ value corresponding to observed $b$ and check if it is equal to or smaller than $\alpha$
Equivalent to
Example context
Does a tv documentary about spiders change whether people are afraid (yes/no) of spiders?
SPSS
Analyze > Nonparametric Tests > Legacy Dialogs > 2 Related Samples...
  • Put the two paired variables in the boxes below Variable 1 and Variable 2
  • Under Test Type, select the McNemar test
Jamovi
Frequencies > Paired Samples - McNemar test
  • Put one of the two paired variables in the box below Rows and the other paired variable in the box below Columns
Practice questions