Cochran's Q 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

Cochran's Q test
Friedman test
Two way ANOVA
Independent/grouping variableIndependent/grouping variableIndependent/grouping variables
One within subject factor ($\geq 2$ related groups)One within subject factor ($\geq 2$ related groups)Two categorical, the first with $I$ independent groups and the second with $J$ independent groups ($I \geqslant 2$, $J \geqslant 2$)
Dependent variableDependent variableDependent variable
One categorical with 2 independent groupsOne of ordinal levelOne quantitative of interval or ratio 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: the population scores in any of the related groups are not systematically higher or lower than the population scores in any of the other related groups

Usually the related groups are the different measurement points. 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.
ANOVA $F$ tests:
  • H0 for main and interaction effects together (model): no main effects and interaction effect
  • H0 for independent variable A: no main effect for A
  • H0 for independent variable B: no main effect for B
  • H0 for the interaction term: no interaction effect between A and B
Like in one way ANOVA, we can also perform $t$ tests for specific contrasts and multiple comparisons. This is more advanced stuff.
Alternative hypothesisAlternative hypothesisAlternative hypothesis
H1: not all population proportions are equalH1: the population scores in some of the related groups are systematically higher or lower than the population scores in other related groups ANOVA $F$ tests:
  • H1 for main and interaction effects together (model): there is a main effect for A, and/or for B, and/or an interaction effect
  • H1 for independent variable A: there is a main effect for A
  • H1 for independent variable B: there is a main effect for B
  • H1 for the interaction term: there is an interaction effect between A and B
AssumptionsAssumptionsAssumptions
  • Sample of 'blocks' (usually the subjects) is a simple random sample from the population. That is, blocks are independent of one another
  • Sample of 'blocks' (usually the subjects) is a simple random sample from the population. That is, blocks are independent of one another
  • Within each of the $I \times J$ populations, the scores on the dependent variable are normally distributed
  • The standard deviation of the scores on the dependent variable is the same in each of the $I \times J$ populations
  • For each of the $I \times J$ groups, the sample is an independent and simple random sample from the population defined by that group. That is, within and between groups, observations are independent of one another
  • Equal sample sizes for each group make the interpretation of the ANOVA output easier (unequal sample sizes result in overlap in the sum of squares; this is advanced stuff)
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.
$Q = \dfrac{12}{N \times k(k + 1)} \sum R^2_i - 3 \times N(k + 1)$

Here $N$ is the number of 'blocks' (usually the subjects - so if you have 4 repeated measurements for 60 subjects, $N$ equals 60), $k$ is the number of related groups (usually the number of repeated measurements), and $R_i$ is the sum of ranks in group $i$.

Remember that multiplication precedes addition, so first compute $\frac{12}{N \times k(k + 1)} \times \sum R^2_i$ and then subtract $3 \times N(k + 1)$.

Note: if ties are present in the data, the formula for $Q$ is more complicated.
For main and interaction effects together (model):
  • $F = \dfrac{\mbox{mean square model}}{\mbox{mean square error}}$
For independent variable A:
  • $F = \dfrac{\mbox{mean square A}}{\mbox{mean square error}}$
For independent variable B:
  • $F = \dfrac{\mbox{mean square B}}{\mbox{mean square error}}$
For the interaction term:
  • $F = \dfrac{\mbox{mean square interaction}}{\mbox{mean square error}}$
Note: mean square error is also known as mean square residual or mean square within.
n.a.n.a.Pooled standard deviation
--$ \begin{aligned} s_p &= \sqrt{\dfrac{\sum\nolimits_{subjects} (\mbox{subject's score} - \mbox{its group mean})^2}{N - (I \times J)}}\\ &= \sqrt{\dfrac{\mbox{sum of squares error}}{\mbox{degrees of freedom error}}}\\ &= \sqrt{\mbox{mean square error}} \end{aligned} $
Sampling distribution of $Q$ if H0 were trueSampling distribution of $Q$ if H0 were trueSampling distribution of $F$ 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 freedomIf the number of blocks $N$ is large, approximately the chi-squared distribution with $k - 1$ degrees of freedom.

For small samples, the exact distribution of $Q$ should be used.
For main and interaction effects together (model):
  • $F$ distribution with $(I - 1) + (J - 1) + (I - 1) \times (J - 1)$ (df model, numerator) and $N - (I \times J)$ (df error, denominator) degrees of freedom
For independent variable A:
  • $F$ distribution with $I - 1$ (df A, numerator) and $N - (I \times J)$ (df error, denominator) degrees of freedom
For independent variable B:
  • $F$ distribution with $J - 1$ (df B, numerator) and $N - (I \times J)$ (df error, denominator) degrees of freedom
For the interaction term:
  • $F$ distribution with $(I - 1) \times (J - 1)$ (df interaction, numerator) and $N - (I \times J)$ (df error, denominator) degrees of freedom
Here $N$ is the total sample size.
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 $\alpha$
If the number of blocks $N$ 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 $\alpha$
  • Check if $F$ observed in sample is equal to or larger than critical value $F^*$ or
  • Find $p$ value corresponding to observed $F$ and check if it is equal to or smaller than $\alpha$
n.a.n.a.Effect size
--
  • Proportion variance explained $R^2$:
    Proportion variance of the dependent variable $y$ explained by the independent variables and the interaction effect together:
    $$ \begin{align} R^2 &= \dfrac{\mbox{sum of squares model}}{\mbox{sum of squares total}} \end{align} $$ $R^2$ is the proportion variance explained in the sample. It is a positively biased estimate of the proportion variance explained in the population.

  • Proportion variance explained $\eta^2$:
    Proportion variance of the dependent variable $y$ explained by an independent variable or interaction effect:
    $$ \begin{align} \eta^2_A &= \dfrac{\mbox{sum of squares A}}{\mbox{sum of squares total}}\\ \\ \eta^2_B &= \dfrac{\mbox{sum of squares B}}{\mbox{sum of squares total}}\\ \\ \eta^2_{int} &= \dfrac{\mbox{sum of squares int}}{\mbox{sum of squares total}} \end{align} $$ $\eta^2$ is the proportion variance explained in the sample. It is a positively biased estimate of the proportion variance explained in the population.

  • Proportion variance explained $\omega^2$:
    Corrects for the positive bias in $\eta^2$ and is equal to:
    $$ \begin{align} \omega^2_A &= \dfrac{\mbox{sum of squares A} - \mbox{degrees of freedom A} \times \mbox{mean square error}}{\mbox{sum of squares total} + \mbox{mean square error}}\\ \\ \omega^2_B &= \dfrac{\mbox{sum of squares B} - \mbox{degrees of freedom B} \times \mbox{mean square error}}{\mbox{sum of squares total} + \mbox{mean square error}}\\ \\ \omega^2_{int} &= \dfrac{\mbox{sum of squares int} - \mbox{degrees of freedom int} \times \mbox{mean square error}}{\mbox{sum of squares total} + \mbox{mean square error}}\\ \end{align} $$ $\omega^2$ is a better estimate of the explained variance in the population than $\eta^2$. Only for balanced designs (equal sample sizes).

  • Proportion variance explained $\eta^2_{partial}$: $$ \begin{align} \eta^2_{partial\,A} &= \frac{\mbox{sum of squares A}}{\mbox{sum of squares A} + \mbox{sum of squares error}}\\ \\ \eta^2_{partial\,B} &= \frac{\mbox{sum of squares B}}{\mbox{sum of squares B} + \mbox{sum of squares error}}\\ \\ \eta^2_{partial\,int} &= \frac{\mbox{sum of squares int}}{\mbox{sum of squares int} + \mbox{sum of squares error}} \end{align} $$
n.a.n.a.ANOVA table
--
two way ANOVA table
Equivalent ton.a.Equivalent to
Friedman test, with a categorical dependent variable consisting of two independent groups.-OLS regression with two categorical independent variables and the interaction term, transformed into $(I - 1)$ + $(J - 1)$ + $(I - 1) \times (J - 1)$ code variables.
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 difference in depression level between measurement point 1 (pre-intervention), measurement point 2 (1 week post-intervention), and measurement point 3 (6 weeks post-intervention)?Is the average mental health score different between people from a low, moderate, and high economic class? And is the average mental health score different between men and women? And is there an interaction effect between economic class and gender?
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 > 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 the Friedman test
Analyze > General Linear Model > Univariate...
  • Put your dependent (quantitative) variable in the box below Dependent Variable and your two independent (grouping) variables in the box below Fixed Factor(s)
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
ANOVA > Repeated Measures ANOVA - Friedman
  • Put the $k$ variables containing the scores for the $k$ related groups in the box below Measures
ANOVA > ANOVA
  • Put your dependent (quantitative) variable in the box below Dependent Variable and your two independent (grouping) variables in the box below Fixed Factors
Practice questionsPractice questionsPractice questions