Spearman's rho - 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

Spearman's rho
One sample $t$ test for the mean
Variable 1Independent variable
One of ordinal levelNone
Variable 2Dependent variable
One of ordinal levelOne quantitative of interval or ratio level
Null hypothesisNull hypothesis
H0: $\rho_s = 0$

Here $\rho_s$ is the Spearman correlation in the population. The Spearman correlation is a measure for the strength and direction of the monotonic relationship between two variables of at least ordinal measurement level.

In words, the null hypothesis would be:

H0: there is no monotonic relationship between the two variables in the population.
H0: $\mu = \mu_0$

Here $\mu$ is the population mean, and $\mu_0$ is the population mean according to the null hypothesis.
Alternative hypothesisAlternative hypothesis
H1 two sided: $\rho_s \neq 0$
H1 right sided: $\rho_s > 0$
H1 left sided: $\rho_s < 0$
H1 two sided: $\mu \neq \mu_0$
H1 right sided: $\mu > \mu_0$
H1 left sided: $\mu < \mu_0$
AssumptionsAssumptions
  • Sample of pairs is a simple random sample from the population of pairs. That is, pairs are independent of one another
Note: this assumption is only important for the significance test, not for the correlation coefficient itself. The correlation coefficient itself just measures the strength of the monotonic relationship between two variables.
  • Scores are normally distributed in the population
  • Sample is a simple random sample from the population. That is, observations are independent of one another
Test statisticTest statistic
$t = \dfrac{r_s \times \sqrt{N - 2}}{\sqrt{1 - r_s^2}} $
Here $r_s$ is the sample Spearman correlation and $N$ is the sample size. The sample Spearman correlation $r_s$ is equal to the Pearson correlation applied to the rank scores.
$t = \dfrac{\bar{y} - \mu_0}{s / \sqrt{N}}$
Here $\bar{y}$ is the sample mean, $\mu_0$ is the population mean according to the null hypothesis, $s$ is the sample standard deviation, and $N$ 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 $\mu_0$.
Sampling distribution of $t$ if H0 were trueSampling distribution of $t$ if H0 were true
Approximately the $t$ distribution with $N - 2$ degrees of freedom$t$ distribution with $N - 1$ degrees of freedom
Significant?Significant?
Two sided: Right sided: Left sided: Two sided: Right sided: Left sided:
n.a.$C\%$ confidence interval for $\mu$
-$\bar{y} \pm t^* \times \dfrac{s}{\sqrt{N}}$
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.
n.a.Effect size
-Cohen's $d$:
Standardized difference between the sample mean and $\mu_0$: $$d = \frac{\bar{y} - \mu_0}{s}$$ Cohen's $d$ indicates how many standard deviations $s$ the sample mean $\bar{y}$ is removed from $\mu_0.$
n.a.Visual representation
-
One sample t test
Example contextExample context
Is there a monotonic relationship between physical health and mental health?Is the average mental health score of office workers different from $\mu_0 = 50$?
SPSSSPSS
Analyze > Correlate > Bivariate...
  • Put your two variables in the box below Variables
  • Under Correlation Coefficients, select Spearman
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
JamoviJamovi
Regression > Correlation Matrix
  • Put your two variables in the white box at the right
  • Under Correlation Coefficients, select Spearman
  • Under Hypothesis, select your alternative hypothesis
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
Practice questionsPractice questions