# Cochran's Q test - overview

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Cochran's Q test
Pearson correlation
Spearman's rho
Independent/grouping variableVariable 1Variable 1
One within subject factor ($\geq 2$ related groups)One quantitative of interval or ratio levelOne of ordinal level
Dependent variableVariable 2Variable 2
One categorical with 2 independent groupsOne quantitative of interval or ratio levelOne of ordinal level
Null hypothesisNull hypothesisNull hypothesis
H0: $\pi_1 = \pi_2 = \ldots = \pi_I$

Here $\pi_1$ is the population proportion of 'successes' for group 1, $\pi_2$ is the population proportion of 'successes' for group 2, and $\pi_I$ is the population proportion of 'successes' for group $I.$
H0: $\rho = \rho_0$

Here $\rho$ is the Pearson correlation in the population, and $\rho_0$ is the Pearson correlation in the population according to the null hypothesis (usually 0). The Pearson correlation is a measure for the strength and direction of the linear relationship between two variables of at least interval measurement level.
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.
Alternative hypothesisAlternative hypothesisAlternative hypothesis
H1: not all population proportions are equalH1 two sided: $\rho \neq \rho_0$
H1 right sided: $\rho > \rho_0$
H1 left sided: $\rho < \rho_0$
H1 two sided: $\rho_s \neq 0$
H1 right sided: $\rho_s > 0$
H1 left sided: $\rho_s < 0$
AssumptionsAssumptions of test for correlationAssumptions
• Sample of 'blocks' (usually the subjects) is a simple random sample from the population. That is, blocks are independent of one another
• In the population, the two variables are jointly normally distributed (this covers the normality, homoscedasticity, and linearity assumptions)
• Sample of pairs is a simple random sample from the population of pairs. That is, pairs are independent of one another
Note: these assumptions are only important for the significance test and confidence interval, not for the correlation coefficient itself. The correlation coefficient just measures the strength of the linear relationship between two variables.
• 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.
Test statisticTest statisticTest statistic
If a failure is scored as 0 and a success is scored as 1:

$Q = k(k - 1) \dfrac{\sum_{groups} \Big (\mbox{group total} - \frac{\mbox{grand total}}{k} \Big)^2}{\sum_{blocks} \mbox{block total} \times (k - \mbox{block total})}$

Here $k$ is the number of related groups (usually the number of repeated measurements), a group total is the sum of the scores in a group, a block total is the sum of the scores in a block (usually a subject), and the grand total is the sum of all the scores.

Before computing $Q$, first exclude blocks with equal scores in all $k$ groups.
Test statistic for testing H0: $\rho = 0$:
• $t = \dfrac{r \times \sqrt{N - 2}}{\sqrt{1 - r^2}}$
where $r$ is the sample correlation $r = \frac{1}{N - 1} \sum_{j}\Big(\frac{x_{j} - \bar{x}}{s_x} \Big) \Big(\frac{y_{j} - \bar{y}}{s_y} \Big)$ and $N$ is the sample size
Test statistic for testing values for $\rho$ other than $\rho = 0$:
• $z = \dfrac{r_{Fisher} - \rho_{0_{Fisher}}}{\sqrt{\dfrac{1}{N - 3}}}$
• $r_{Fisher} = \dfrac{1}{2} \times \log\Bigg(\dfrac{1 + r}{1 - r} \Bigg )$, where $r$ is the sample correlation
• $\rho_{0_{Fisher}} = \dfrac{1}{2} \times \log\Bigg( \dfrac{1 + \rho_0}{1 - \rho_0} \Bigg )$, where $\rho_0$ is the population correlation according to H0
$t = \dfrac{r_s \times \sqrt{N - 2}}{\sqrt{1 - r_s^2}}$
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.
Sampling distribution of $Q$ if H0 were trueSampling distribution of $t$ and of $z$ if H0 were trueSampling distribution of $t$ if H0 were true
If the number of blocks (usually the number of subjects) is large, approximately the chi-squared distribution with $k - 1$ degrees of freedomSampling distribution of $t$:
• $t$ distribution with $N - 2$ degrees of freedom
Sampling distribution of $z$:
• Approximately the standard normal distribution
Approximately the $t$ distribution with $N - 2$ degrees of freedom
Significant?Significant?Significant?
If the number of blocks is large, the table with critical $X^2$ values can be used. If we denote $X^2 = Q$:
• 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 $\alpha$
$t$ Test two sided:
$t$ Test right sided:
$t$ Test left sided:
$z$ Test two sided:
$z$ Test right sided:
$z$ Test left sided:
Two sided:
Right sided:
Left sided:
n.a.Approximate $C$% confidence interval for $\rho$n.a.
-First compute the approximate $C$% confidence interval for $\rho_{Fisher}$:
• $lower_{Fisher} = r_{Fisher} - z^* \times \sqrt{\dfrac{1}{N - 3}}$
• $upper_{Fisher} = r_{Fisher} + z^* \times \sqrt{\dfrac{1}{N - 3}}$
where $r_{Fisher} = \frac{1}{2} \times \log\Bigg(\dfrac{1 + r}{1 - r} \Bigg )$ and the critical value $z^*$ 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).
Then transform back to get the approximate $C$% confidence interval for $\rho$:
• lower bound = $\dfrac{e^{2 \times lower_{Fisher}} - 1}{e^{2 \times lower_{Fisher}} + 1}$
• upper bound = $\dfrac{e^{2 \times upper_{Fisher}} - 1}{e^{2 \times upper_{Fisher}} + 1}$
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n.a.Properties of the Pearson correlation coefficientn.a.
-
• The Pearson correlation coefficient is a measure for the linear relationship between two quantitative variables.
• The Pearson correlation coefficient squared reflects the proportion of variance explained in one variable by the other variable.
• The Pearson correlation coefficient can take on values between -1 (perfect negative relationship) and 1 (perfect positive relationship). A value of 0 means no linear relationship.
• The absolute size of the Pearson correlation coefficient is not affected by any linear transformation of the variables. However, the sign of the Pearson correlation will flip when the scores on one of the two variables are multiplied by a negative number (reversing the direction of measurement of that variable).
For example:
• the correlation between $x$ and $y$ is equivalent to the correlation between $3x + 5$ and $2y - 6$.
• the absolute value of the correlation between $x$ and $y$ is equivalent to the absolute value of the correlation between $-3x + 5$ and $2y - 6$. However, the signs of the two correlation coefficients will be in opposite directions, due to the multiplication of $x$ by $-3$.
• The Pearson correlation coefficient does not say anything about causality.
• The Pearson correlation coefficient is sensitive to outliers.
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Equivalent toEquivalent ton.a.
Friedman test, with a categorical dependent variable consisting of two independent groups.OLS regression with one independent variable:
• $b_1 = r \times \frac{s_y}{s_x}$
• Results significance test ($t$ and $p$ value) testing $H_0$: $\beta_1 = 0$ are equivalent to results significance test testing $H_0$: $\rho = 0$
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Example contextExample contextExample context
Subjects perform three different tasks, which they can either perform correctly or incorrectly. Is there a difference in task performance between the three different tasks?Is there a linear relationship between physical health and mental health?Is there a monotonic relationship between physical health and mental health?
SPSSSPSSSPSS
Analyze > Nonparametric Tests > Legacy Dialogs > K Related Samples...
• Put the $k$ variables containing the scores for the $k$ related groups in the white box below Test Variables
• Under Test Type, select Cochran's Q test
Analyze > Correlate > Bivariate...
• Put your two variables in the box below Variables
Analyze > Correlate > Bivariate...
• Put your two variables in the box below Variables
• Under Correlation Coefficients, select Spearman
JamoviJamoviJamovi
Jamovi does not have a specific option for the Cochran's Q test. However, you can do the Friedman test instead. The $p$ value resulting from this Friedman test is equivalent to the $p$ value that would have resulted from the Cochran's Q test. Go to:

ANOVA > Repeated Measures ANOVA - Friedman
• Put the $k$ variables containing the scores for the $k$ related groups in the box below Measures
Regression > Correlation Matrix
• Put your two variables in the white box at the right
• Under Correlation Coefficients, select Pearson (selected by default)
• Under Hypothesis, select your alternative hypothesis
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
Practice questionsPractice questionsPractice questions