# One sample Wilcoxon signed-rank test - overview

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One sample Wilcoxon signed-rank test
$z$ test for the difference between two proportions
Sign test
Independent variableIndependent/grouping variableIndependent variable
NoneOne categorical with 2 independent groups2 paired groups
Dependent variableDependent variableDependent variable
One of ordinal levelOne categorical with 2 independent groupsOne of ordinal level
Null hypothesisNull hypothesisNull hypothesis
H0: $m = m_0$

Here $m$ is the population median, and $m_0$ is the population median according to the null hypothesis.
H0: $\pi_1 = \pi_2$

Here $\pi_1$ is the population proportion of 'successes' for group 1, and $\pi_2$ is the population proportion of 'successes' for group 2.
• H0: P(first score of a pair exceeds second score of a pair) = P(second score of a pair exceeds first score of a pair)
If the dependent variable is measured on a continuous scale, this can also be formulated as:
• H0: the population median of the difference scores is equal to zero
A difference score is the difference between the first score of a pair and the second score of a pair.
Alternative hypothesisAlternative hypothesisAlternative hypothesis
H1 two sided: $m \neq m_0$
H1 right sided: $m > m_0$
H1 left sided: $m < m_0$
H1 two sided: $\pi_1 \neq \pi_2$
H1 right sided: $\pi_1 > \pi_2$
H1 left sided: $\pi_1 < \pi_2$
• H1 two sided: P(first score of a pair exceeds second score of a pair) $\neq$ P(second score of a pair exceeds first score of a pair)
• H1 right sided: P(first score of a pair exceeds second score of a pair) > P(second score of a pair exceeds first score of a pair)
• H1 left sided: P(first score of a pair exceeds second score of a pair) < P(second score of a pair exceeds first score of a pair)
If the dependent variable is measured on a continuous scale, this can also be formulated as:
• H1 two sided: the population median of the difference scores is different from zero
• H1 right sided: the population median of the difference scores is larger than zero
• H1 left sided: the population median of the difference scores is smaller than zero
AssumptionsAssumptionsAssumptions
• The population distribution of the scores is symmetric
• Sample is a simple random sample from the population. That is, observations are independent of one another
• Sample size is large enough for $z$ to be approximately normally distributed. Rule of thumb:
• Significance test: number of successes and number of failures are each 5 or more in both sample groups
• Regular (large sample) 90%, 95%, or 99% confidence interval: number of successes and number of failures are each 10 or more in both sample groups
• Plus four 90%, 95%, or 99% confidence interval: sample sizes of both groups are 5 or more
• 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
• Sample of pairs is a simple random sample from the population of pairs. That is, pairs are independent of one another
Test statisticTest statisticTest statistic
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:
1. For each subject, compute the sign of the difference score $\mbox{sign}_d = \mbox{sgn}(\mbox{score} - m_0)$. 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.
2. For each subject, compute the absolute value of the difference score $|\mbox{score} - m_0|$.
3. Exclude subjects with a difference score of zero. This leaves us with a remaining number of difference scores equal to $N_r$.
4. 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.
Then compute the test statistic:

• $W_1 = \sum\, R_d^{+}$
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.
$z = \dfrac{p_1 - p_2}{\sqrt{p(1 - p)\Bigg(\dfrac{1}{n_1} + \dfrac{1}{n_2}\Bigg)}}$
Here $p_1$ is the sample proportion of successes in group 1: $\dfrac{X_1}{n_1}$, $p_2$ is the sample proportion of successes in group 2: $\dfrac{X_2}{n_2}$, $p$ is the total proportion of successes in the sample: $\dfrac{X_1 + X_2}{n_1 + n_2}$, $n_1$ is the sample size of group 1, and $n_2$ is the sample size of group 2.
Note: we could just as well compute $p_2 - p_1$ in the numerator, but then the left sided alternative becomes $\pi_2 < \pi_1$, and the right sided alternative becomes $\pi_2 > \pi_1.$
$W =$ number of difference scores that is larger than 0
Sampling distribution of $W_1$ and of $W_2$ if H0 were trueSampling distribution of $z$ if H0 were trueSampling distribution of $W$ if H0 were true
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 standard normal distributionThe exact distribution of $W$ under the null hypothesis is the Binomial($n$, $P$) distribution, with $n =$ number of positive differences $+$ number of negative differences, and $P = 0.5$.

If $n$ is large, $W$ is approximately normally distributed under the null hypothesis, with mean $nP = n \times 0.5$ and standard deviation $\sqrt{nP(1-P)} = \sqrt{n \times 0.5(1 - 0.5)}$. Hence, if $n$ is large, the standardized test statistic $$z = \frac{W - n \times 0.5}{\sqrt{n \times 0.5(1 - 0.5)}}$$ follows approximately the standard normal distribution if the null hypothesis were true.
Significant?Significant?Significant?
For large samples, the table for standard normal probabilities can be used:
Two sided:
Right sided:
Left sided:
Two sided:
Right sided:
Left sided:
If $n$ is small, the table for the binomial distribution should be used:
Two sided:
• Check if $W$ observed in sample is in the rejection region or
• Find two sided $p$ value corresponding to observed $W$ and check if it is equal to or smaller than $\alpha$
Right sided:
• Check if $W$ observed in sample is in the rejection region or
• Find right sided $p$ value corresponding to observed $W$ and check if it is equal to or smaller than $\alpha$
Left sided:
• Check if $W$ observed in sample is in the rejection region or
• Find left sided $p$ value corresponding to observed $W$ and check if it is equal to or smaller than $\alpha$

If $n$ is large, the table for standard normal probabilities can be used:
Two sided:
Right sided:
Left sided:
n.a.Approximate $C\%$ confidence interval for $\pi_1 - \pi_2$n.a.
-Regular (large sample):
• $(p_1 - p_2) \pm z^* \times \sqrt{\dfrac{p_1(1 - p_1)}{n_1} + \dfrac{p_2(1 - p_2)}{n_2}}$
where 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)
With plus four method:
• $(p_{1.plus} - p_{2.plus}) \pm z^* \times \sqrt{\dfrac{p_{1.plus}(1 - p_{1.plus})}{n_1 + 2} + \dfrac{p_{2.plus}(1 - p_{2.plus})}{n_2 + 2}}$
where $p_{1.plus} = \dfrac{X_1 + 1}{n_1 + 2}$, $p_{2.plus} = \dfrac{X_2 + 1}{n_2 + 2}$, 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)
-
n.a.Equivalent toEquivalent to
-When testing two sided: chi-squared test for the relationship between two categorical variables, where both categorical variables have 2 levels. Two sided sign test is equivalent to
Example contextExample contextExample context
Is the median mental health score of office workers different from $m_0 = 50$?Is the proportion of smokers different between men and women? Use the normal approximation for the sampling distribution of the test statistic.Do people tend to score higher on mental health after a mindfulness course?
SPSSSPSSSPSS
Specify the measurement level of your variable on the Variable View tab, in the column named Measure. Then go to:

Analyze > Nonparametric Tests > One Sample...
• On the Objective tab, choose Customize Analysis
• On the Fields tab, specify the variable for which you want to compute the Wilcoxon signed-rank test
• On the Settings tab, choose Customize tests and check the box for 'Compare median to hypothesized (Wilcoxon signed-rank test)'. Fill in your $m_0$ in the box next to Hypothesized median
• Click Run
• Double click on the output table to see the full results
SPSS does not have a specific option for the $z$ test for the difference between two proportions. However, you can do the chi-squared test instead. The $p$ value resulting from this chi-squared test is equivalent to the two sided $p$ value that would have resulted from the $z$ test. Go to:

Analyze > Descriptive Statistics > Crosstabs...
• Put your independent (grouping) variable in the box below Row(s), and your dependent variable in the box below Column(s)
• Click the Statistics... button, and click on the square in front of Chi-square
• Continue and click OK
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 Sign test
JamoviJamoviJamovi
T-Tests > One Sample T-Test
• Put your variable in the box below Dependent Variables
• Under Tests, select Wilcoxon rank
• Under Hypothesis, fill in the value for $m_0$ in the box next to Test Value, and select your alternative hypothesis
Jamovi does not have a specific option for the $z$ test for the difference between two proportions. However, you can do the chi-squared test instead. The $p$ value resulting from this chi-squared test is equivalent to the two sided $p$ value that would have resulted from the $z$ test. Go to:

Frequencies > Independent Samples - $\chi^2$ test of association
• Put your independent (grouping) variable in the box below Rows, and your dependent variable in the box below Columns
Jamovi does not have a specific option for the sign test. However, you can do the Friedman test instead. The $p$ value resulting from this Friedman test is equivalent to the two sided $p$ value that would have resulted from the sign test. Go to:

ANOVA > Repeated Measures ANOVA - Friedman
• Put the two paired variables in the box below Measures
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