# Cochran's Q test - overview

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Cochran's Q test | Wilcoxon signed-rank test | Two sample $t$ test - equal variances not assumed |
You cannot compare more than 3 methods |
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Independent/grouping variable | Independent variable | Independent/grouping variable | |

One within subject factor ($\geq 2$ related groups) | 2 paired groups | One categorical with 2 independent groups | |

Dependent variable | Dependent variable | Dependent variable | |

One categorical with 2 independent groups | One quantitative of interval or ratio level | One quantitative of interval or ratio level | |

Null hypothesis | Null hypothesis | Null hypothesis | |

H_{0}: $\pi_1 = \pi_2 = \ldots = \pi_I$
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 $I.$ | H_{0}: $m = 0$
Here $m$ is the population median of the difference scores. A difference score is the difference between the first score of a pair and the second score of a pair. 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. | H_{0}: $\mu_1 = \mu_2$
Here $\mu_1$ is the population mean for group 1, and $\mu_2$ is the population mean for group 2. | |

Alternative hypothesis | Alternative hypothesis | Alternative hypothesis | |

H_{1}: not all population proportions are equal | H_{1} two sided: $m \neq 0$H _{1} right sided: $m > 0$H _{1} left sided: $m < 0$
| H_{1} two sided: $\mu_1 \neq \mu_2$H _{1} right sided: $\mu_1 > \mu_2$H _{1} left sided: $\mu_1 < \mu_2$
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Assumptions | Assumptions | Assumptions | |

- Sample of 'blocks' (usually the subjects) is a simple random sample from the population. That is, blocks are independent of one another
| - The population distribution of the difference scores is symmetric
- Sample of difference scores is a simple random sample from the population of difference scores. That is, difference scores are independent of one another
ranked difference scores, we need to know whether a change in scores from, say, 6 to 7 is larger than/smaller than/equal to a change from 5 to 6. This is impossible to know for ordinal scales, since for these scales the size of the difference between values is meaningless.
| - 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
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Test statistic | Test statistic | Test 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. | Two different types of test statistics can be used, but both will result in the same test outcome. We will denote the first option the $W_1$ statistic (also known as the $T$ statistic), and the second option the $W_2$ statistic.
In order to compute each of the test statistics, follow the steps below:
- For each subject, compute the sign of the difference score $\mbox{sign}_d = \mbox{sgn}(\mbox{score}_2 - \mbox{score}_1)$. The sign is 1 if the difference is larger than zero, -1 if the diffence is smaller than zero, and 0 if the difference is equal to zero.
- For each subject, compute the absolute value of the difference score $|\mbox{score}_2 - \mbox{score}_1|$.
- Exclude subjects with a difference score of zero. This leaves us with a remaining number of difference scores equal to $N_r$.
- Assign ranks $R_d$ to the $N_r$ remaining
*absolute*difference scores. The smallest absolute difference score corresponds to a rank score of 1, and the largest absolute difference score corresponds to a rank score of $N_r$. If there are ties, assign them the average of the ranks they occupy.
- $W_1 = \sum\, R_d^{+}$
or $W_1 = \sum\, R_d^{-}$ That is, sum all ranks corresponding to a positive difference or sum all ranks corresponding to a negative difference. Theoratically, both definitions will result in the same test outcome. However:- tables with critical values for $W_1$ are usually based on the smaller of $\sum\, R_d^{+}$ and $\sum\, R_d^{-}$. So if you are using such a table, pick the smaller one.
- If you are using the normal approximation to find the $p$ value, it makes things most straightforward if you use $W_1 = \sum\, R_d^{+}$ (if you use $W_1 = \sum\, R_d^{-}$, the right and left sided alternative hypotheses 'flip').
- $W_2 = \sum\, \mbox{sign}_d \times R_d$
That is, for each remaining difference score, multiply the rank of the absolute difference score by the sign of the difference score, and then sum all of the products.
| $t = \dfrac{(\bar{y}_1 - \bar{y}_2) - 0}{\sqrt{\dfrac{s^2_1}{n_1} + \dfrac{s^2_2}{n_2}}} = \dfrac{\bar{y}_1 - \bar{y}_2}{\sqrt{\dfrac{s^2_1}{n_1} + \dfrac{s^2_2}{n_2}}}$
Here $\bar{y}_1$ 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, and $n_2$ is the sample size of group 2. The 0 represents the difference in population means according to the null hypothesis. 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 $\mu_2 > \mu_1$. | |

Sampling distribution of $Q$ if H_{0} were true | Sampling distribution of $W_1$ and of $W_2$ if H_{0} were true | Sampling distribution of $t$ if H_{0} were true | |

If the number of blocks (usually the number of subjects) is large, approximately the chi-squared distribution with $k - 1$ degrees of freedom | Sampling distribution of $W_1$:
If $N_r$ is large, $W_1$ is approximately normally distributed with mean $\mu_{W_1}$ and standard deviation $\sigma_{W_1}$ if the null hypothesis were true. Here $$\mu_{W_1} = \frac{N_r(N_r + 1)}{4}$$ $$\sigma_{W_1} = \sqrt{\frac{N_r(N_r + 1)(2N_r + 1)}{24}}$$ Hence, if $N_r$ is large, the standardized test statistic $$z = \frac{W_1 - \mu_{W_1}}{\sigma_{W_1}}$$ follows approximately the standard normal distribution if the null hypothesis were true. Sampling distribution of $W_2$: If $N_r$ is large, $W_2$ is approximately normally distributed with mean $0$ and standard deviation $\sigma_{W_2}$ if the null hypothesis were true. Here $$\sigma_{W_2} = \sqrt{\frac{N_r(N_r + 1)(2N_r + 1)}{6}}$$ Hence, if $N_r$ is large, the standardized test statistic $$z = \frac{W_2}{\sigma_{W_2}}$$ follows approximately the standard normal distribution if the null hypothesis were true. If $N_r$ is small, the exact distribution of $W_1$ or $W_2$ should be used. Note: if ties are present in the data, the formula for the standard deviations $\sigma_{W_1}$ and $\sigma_{W_2}$ is more complicated. | Approximately the $t$ 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. | |

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 $\alpha$
| For large samples, the table for standard normal probabilities can be used: Two sided: - Check if $z$ observed in sample is at least as extreme as critical value $z^*$ or
- Find two sided $p$ value corresponding to observed $z$ and check if it is equal to or smaller than $\alpha$
- Check if $z$ observed in sample is equal to or larger than critical value $z^*$ or
- Find right sided $p$ value corresponding to observed $z$ and check if it is equal to or smaller than $\alpha$
- Check if $z$ observed in sample is equal to or smaller than critical value $z^*$ or
- Find left sided $p$ value corresponding to observed $z$ and check if it is equal to or smaller than $\alpha$
| Two sided:
- Check if $t$ observed in sample is at least as extreme as critical value $t^*$ or
- Find two sided $p$ value corresponding to observed $t$ and check if it is equal to or smaller than $\alpha$
- Check if $t$ observed in sample is equal to or larger than critical value $t^*$ or
- Find right sided $p$ value corresponding to observed $t$ and check if it is equal to or smaller than $\alpha$
- Check if $t$ observed in sample is equal to or smaller than critical value $t^*$ or
- Find left sided $p$ value corresponding to observed $t$ and check if it is equal to or smaller than $\alpha$
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n.a. | n.a. | Approximate $C\%$ confidence interval for $\mu_1 - \mu_2$ | |

- | - | $(\bar{y}_1 - \bar{y}_2) \pm t^* \times \sqrt{\dfrac{s^2_1}{n_1} + \dfrac{s^2_2}{n_2}}$
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. | |

n.a. | n.a. | Visual representation | |

- | - | ||

Equivalent to | n.a. | n.a. | |

Friedman test, with a categorical dependent variable consisting of two independent groups. | - | - | |

Example context | Example context | Example 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 the median of the differences between the mental health scores before and after an intervention different from 0? | Is the average mental health score different between men and women? | |

SPSS | SPSS | SPSS | |

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 > 2 Related Samples...
- Put the two paired variables in the boxes below Variable 1 and Variable 2
- Under Test Type, select the Wilcoxon test
| 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
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Jamovi | Jamovi | Jamovi | |

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
| T-Tests > Paired Samples T-Test
- Put the two paired variables in the box below Paired Variables, one on the left side of the vertical line and one on the right side of the vertical line
- Under Tests, select Wilcoxon rank
- 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 Welch's
- Under Hypothesis, select your alternative hypothesis
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Practice questions | Practice questions | Practice questions | |