One sample t test for the mean: overview

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One sample $t$ test for the mean
Two sample $z$ test
Two sample $t$ test - equal variances not assumed
Two sample $t$ test - equal variances assumed
Independent variableIndependent variableIndependent variableIndependent variable
NoneOne categorical with 2 independent groupsOne categorical with 2 independent groupsOne categorical with 2 independent groups
Dependent variableDependent variableDependent variableDependent variable
One quantitative of interval or ratio levelOne quantitative of interval or ratio levelOne quantitative of interval or ratio levelOne quantitative of interval or ratio level
Null hypothesisNull hypothesisNull hypothesisNull hypothesis
$\mu = \mu_0$
$\mu$ is the unknown population mean; $\mu_0$ is the population mean according to the null hypothesis
$\mu_1 = \mu_2$
$\mu_1$ is the unknown mean in population 1, $\mu_2$ is the unknown mean in population 2
$\mu_1 = \mu_2$
$\mu_1$ is the unknown mean in population 1, $\mu_2$ is the unknown mean in population 2
$\mu_1 = \mu_2$
$\mu_1$ is the unknown mean in population 1, $\mu_2$ is the unknown mean in population 2
Alternative hypothesisAlternative hypothesisAlternative hypothesisAlternative hypothesis
Two sided: $\mu \neq \mu_0$
Right sided: $\mu > \mu_0$
Left sided: $\mu < \mu_0$
Two sided: $\mu_1 \neq \mu_2$
Right sided: $\mu_1 > \mu_2$
Left sided: $\mu_1 < \mu_2$
Two sided: $\mu_1 \neq \mu_2$
Right sided: $\mu_1 > \mu_2$
Left sided: $\mu_1 < \mu_2$
Two sided: $\mu_1 \neq \mu_2$
Right sided: $\mu_1 > \mu_2$
Left sided: $\mu_1 < \mu_2$
AssumptionsAssumptionsAssumptionsAssumptions
  • Scores are normally distributed in the population
  • Sample is a simple random sample from the population. That is, observations are independent of one another
  • Within each population, the scores on the dependent variable are normally distributed
  • Population standard deviations $\sigma_1$ and $\sigma_2$ are known
  • Group 1 sample is a simple random sample (SRS) from population 1, group 2 sample is an independent SRS from population 2. That is, within and between groups, observations are independent of one another
  • Within each population, the scores on the dependent variable are normally distributed
  • Group 1 sample is a simple random sample (SRS) from population 1, group 2 sample is an independent SRS from population 2. That is, within and between groups, observations are independent of one another
  • Within each population, the scores on the dependent variable are normally distributed
  • The standard deviation of the scores on the dependent variable is the same in both populations: $\sigma_1 = \sigma_2$
  • Group 1 sample is a simple random sample (SRS) from population 1, group 2 sample is an independent SRS from population 2. That is, within and between groups, observations are independent of one another
Test statisticTest statisticTest statisticTest statistic
$t = \dfrac{\bar{y} - \mu_0}{s / \sqrt{N}}$
$\bar{y}$ is the sample mean, $\mu_0$ is the population mean according to H0, $s$ is the sample standard deviation, $N$ is the sample size.

The denominator $s / \sqrt{N}$ is the standard error of the sampling distribution of $\bar{y}$. The $t$ value indicates how many standard errors $\bar{y}$ is removed from $\mu_0$
$z = \dfrac{(\bar{y}_1 - \bar{y}_2) - 0}{\sqrt{\dfrac{\sigma^2_1}{n_1} + \dfrac{\sigma^2_2}{n_2}}} = \dfrac{\bar{y}_1 - \bar{y}_2}{\sqrt{\dfrac{\sigma^2_1}{n_1} + \dfrac{\sigma^2_2}{n_2}}}$
$\bar{y}_1$ is the sample mean in group 1, $\bar{y}_2$ is the sample mean in group 2, $\sigma^2_1$ is the population variance in population 1, $\sigma^2_2$ is the population variance in population 2, $n_1$ is the sample size of group 1, $n_2$ is the sample size of group 2. The 0 represents the difference in population means according to H0.

The denominator $\sqrt{\frac{\sigma^2_1}{n_1} + \frac{\sigma^2_2}{n_2}}$ is the standard deviation of the sampling distribution of $\bar{y}_1 - \bar{y}_2$. The $z$ value indicates how many of these standard deviations $\bar{y}_1 - \bar{y}_2$ is removed from 0.

Note: we could just as well compute $\bar{y}_2 - \bar{y}_1$ in the numerator, but then the left sided alternative becomes $\mu_2 < \mu_1$, and the right sided alternative becomes $\mu_2 > \mu_1$
$t = \dfrac{(\bar{y}_1 - \bar{y}_2) - 0}{\sqrt{\dfrac{s^2_1}{n_1} + \dfrac{s^2_2}{n_2}}} = \dfrac{\bar{y}_1 - \bar{y}_2}{\sqrt{\dfrac{s^2_1}{n_1} + \dfrac{s^2_2}{n_2}}}$
$\bar{y}_1$ is the sample mean in group 1, $\bar{y}_2$ is the sample mean in group 2, $s^2_1$ is the sample variance in group 1, $s^2_2$ is the sample variance in group 2, $n_1$ is the sample size of group 1, $n_2$ is the sample size of group 2. The 0 represents the difference in population means according to H0.

The denominator $\sqrt{\frac{s^2_1}{n_1} + \frac{s^2_2}{n_2}}$ is the standard error of the sampling distribution of $\bar{y}_1 - \bar{y}_2$. The $t$ value indicates how many standard errors $\bar{y}_1 - \bar{y}_2$ is removed from 0.

Note: we could just as well compute $\bar{y}_2 - \bar{y}_1$ in the numerator, but then the left sided alternative becomes $\mu_2 < \mu_1$, and the right sided alternative becomes $\mu_2 > \mu_1$
$t = \dfrac{(\bar{y}_1 - \bar{y}_2) - 0}{s_p\sqrt{\dfrac{1}{n_1} + \dfrac{1}{n_2}}} = \dfrac{\bar{y}_1 - \bar{y}_2}{s_p\sqrt{\dfrac{1}{n_1} + \dfrac{1}{n_2}}}$
$\bar{y}_1$ is the sample mean in group 1, $\bar{y}_2$ is the sample mean in group 2, $s_p$ is the pooled standard deviation, $n_1$ is the sample size of group 1, $n_2$ is the sample size of group 2. The 0 represents the difference in population means according to H0.

The denominator $s_p\sqrt{\dfrac{1}{n_1} + \dfrac{1}{n_2}}$ is the standard error of the sampling distribution of $\bar{y}_1 - \bar{y}_2$. The $t$ value indicates how many standard errors $\bar{y}_1 - \bar{y}_2$ is removed from 0.

Note: we could just as well compute $\bar{y}_2 - \bar{y}_1$ in the numerator, but then the left sided alternative becomes $\mu_2 < \mu_1$, and the right sided alternative becomes $\mu_2 > \mu_1$
n.a.n.a.n.a.Pooled standard deviation
---$s_p = \sqrt{\dfrac{(n_1 - 1) \times s^2_1 + (n_2 - 1) \times s^2_2}{n_1 + n_2 - 2}}$
Sampling distribution of $t$ if H0 were trueSampling distribution of $z$ if H0 were trueSampling distribution of $t$ if H0 were trueSampling distribution of $t$ if H0 were true
$t$ Distribution with $N - 1$ degrees of freedomStandard normalApproximately a $t$ distribution with $k$ degrees of freedom, with $k$ equal to
$k = \dfrac{\Bigg(\dfrac{s^2_1}{n_1} + \dfrac{s^2_2}{n_2}\Bigg)^2}{\dfrac{1}{n_1 - 1} \Bigg(\dfrac{s^2_1}{n_1}\Bigg)^2 + \dfrac{1}{n_2 - 1} \Bigg(\dfrac{s^2_2}{n_2}\Bigg)^2}$
or
$k$ = the smaller of $n_1$ - 1 and $n_2$ - 1

First definition of $k$ is used by computer programs, second definition is often used for hand calculations
$t$ distribution with $n_1 + n_2 - 2$ degrees of freedom
Significant?Significant?Significant?Significant?
Two sided: Right sided: Left sided: Two sided: Right sided: Left sided: Two sided: Right sided: Left sided: Two sided: Right sided: Left sided:
$C\%$ confidence interval for $\mu$$C\%$ confidence interval for $\mu_1 - \mu_2$Approximate $C\%$ confidence interval for $\mu_1 - \mu_2$$C\%$ confidence interval for $\mu_1 - \mu_2$
$\bar{y} \pm t^* \times \dfrac{s}{\sqrt{N}}$
where the critical value $t^*$ is the value under the $t_{N-1}$ distribution with the area $C / 100$ between $-t^*$ and $t^*$ (e.g. $t^*$ = 2.086 for a 95% confidence interval when df = 20)

The confidence interval for $\mu$ can also be used as significance test.
$(\bar{y}_1 - \bar{y}_2) \pm z^* \times \sqrt{\dfrac{\sigma^2_1}{n_1} + \dfrac{\sigma^2_2}{n_2}}$
where $z^*$ is the value under the normal curve with the area $C / 100$ between $-z^*$ and $z^*$ (e.g. $z^*$ = 1.96 for a 95% confidence interval)

The confidence interval for $\mu_1 - \mu_2$ can also be used as significance test.
$(\bar{y}_1 - \bar{y}_2) \pm t^* \times \sqrt{\dfrac{s^2_1}{n_1} + \dfrac{s^2_2}{n_2}}$
where the critical value $t^*$ is the value under the $t_{k}$ distribution with the area $C / 100$ between $-t^*$ and $t^*$ (e.g. $t^*$ = 2.086 for a 95% confidence interval when df = 20)

The confidence interval for $\mu_1 - \mu_2$ can also be used as significance test.
$(\bar{y}_1 - \bar{y}_2) \pm t^* \times s_p\sqrt{\dfrac{1}{n_1} + \dfrac{1}{n_2}}$
where the critical value $t^*$ is the value under the $t_{n_1 + n_2 - 2}$ distribution with the area $C / 100$ between $-t^*$ and $t^*$ (e.g. $t^*$ = 2.086 for a 95% confidence interval when df = 20)

The confidence interval for $\mu_1 - \mu_2$ can also be used as significance test.
Effect sizen.a.n.a.Effect size
Cohen's $d$:
Standardized difference between the sample mean and $\mu_0$: $$d = \frac{\bar{y} - \mu_0}{s}$$ Indicates how many standard deviations $s$ the sample mean $\bar{y}$ is removed from $\mu_0$
--Cohen's $d$:
Standardized difference between the mean in group $1$ and in group $2$: $$d = \frac{\bar{y}_1 - \bar{y}_2}{s_p}$$ Indicates how many standard deviations $s_p$ the two sample means are removed from each other
Visual representationVisual representationVisual representationVisual representation
One sample t test
Two sample z test
Two sample t test - equal variances not assumed
Two sample t test - equal variances assumed
n.a.n.a.n.a.Equivalent to
---One way ANOVA with an independent variable with 2 levels ($I$ = 2):
  • two sided pooled sample $t$ test equivalent to ANOVA $F$ test when $I$ = 2
  • pooled sample $t$ test equivalent to $t$ test for contrast when $I$ = 2
  • pooled sample $t$ test equivalent to $t$ test multiple comparisons when $I$ = 2

OLS regression with one categorical independent variable with 2 levels:
  • two sided pooled sample $t$ test equivalent to $F$ test regression model
  • pooled sample $t$ test equivalent to $t$ test for regression coefficient $\beta_1$
Example contextExample contextExample contextExample context
Is the average mental health score of office workers different from $\mu_0$ = 50?Is the average mental health score different between men and women? Assume that in the population, the standard devation of the mental health scores is $\sigma_1$ = 2 amongst men and $\sigma_2$ = 2.5 amongst women.Is the average mental health score different between men and women?Is the average mental health score different between men and women? Assume that in the population, the standard deviation of mental health scores is equal amongst men and women.
SPSSn.a.SPSSSPSS
Analyze > Compare Means > One-Sample T Test...
  • Put your variable in the box below Test Variable(s)
  • Fill in the value for $\mu_0$ in the box next to Test Value
-Analyze > Compare Means > Independent-Samples T Test...
  • Put your dependent (quantitative) variable in the box below Test Variable(s) and your independent (grouping) variable in the box below Grouping Variable
  • Click on the Define Groups... button. If you can't click on it, first click on the grouping variable so its background turns yellow
  • Fill in the value you have used to indicate your first group in the box next to Group 1, and the value you have used to indicate your second group in the box next to Group 2
  • Continue and click OK
Analyze > Compare Means > Independent-Samples T Test...
  • Put your dependent (quantitative) variable in the box below Test Variable(s) and your independent (grouping) variable in the box below Grouping Variable
  • Click on the Define Groups... button. If you can't click on it, first click on the grouping variable so its background turns yellow
  • Fill in the value you have used to indicate your first group in the box next to Group 1, and the value you have used to indicate your second group in the box next to Group 2
  • Continue and click OK
Jamovin.a.JamoviJamovi
T-Tests > One Sample T-Test
  • Put your variable in the box below Dependent Variables
  • Under Hypothesis, fill in the value for $\mu_0$ in the box next to Test Value, and select your alternative hypothesis
-T-Tests > Independent Samples T-Test
  • Put your dependent (quantitative) variable in the box below Dependent Variables and your independent (grouping) variable in the box below Grouping Variable
  • Under Tests, select Welch's
  • Under Hypothesis, select your alternative hypothesis
T-Tests > Independent Samples T-Test
  • Put your dependent (quantitative) variable in the box below Dependent Variables and your independent (grouping) variable in the box below Grouping Variable
  • Under Tests, select Student's (selected by default)
  • Under Hypothesis, select your alternative hypothesis
Practice questionsPractice questionsPractice questionsPractice questions