Interpretation of Statistical Data in Psychology

Statistics are not a goal but rather a means to an end in which certain conclusions may be drawn. This must be done with extreme caution, or else erroneous conclusions will be reached, and the entire goal of doing research will be defeated. A researcher/statistician must develop conclusions and explain their relevance in addition to collecting and analyzing data. The study's meanings and consequences become obvious via interpretation. Without interpretation, analysis is incomplete, and interpretation cannot progress without analysis. As a result, both are interdependent. As a result, we will address the interpretation of analyzed data in this unit, summarising the interpretation and statistical fallacies.

What is Data Interpretation?

Interpretation is the conversion of a statistical result into an understandable description. The phases of analysis and interpretation are critical in the research process. The analysis aims to summarise the obtained data, but the goal of interpretation is to determine the larger significance of the study findings. The researcher goes beyond descriptive data to gain meaning and insights from the data through interpretation.

A researcher/ statistician is required to not only gather and analyze data but also to interpret the findings. Interpretation is necessary for the simple reason that accurate interpretation determines the usefulness and usability of research findings. Only via interpretation can the researcher reveal the relationships and patterns that underpin his results. In the case of hypothesis testing investigations, the researcher may reach broad conclusions.

Essentials for Interpretation

Before drawing inferences from statistics, keep the following things in mind.

  • The data must be homogeneous − It is essential to ensure that the data are properly comparable. We must be careful to compare like with and not unlike with unlike.

  • The data are sufficient − Sometimes the facts are partial or insufficient, and it is neither feasible to evaluate them scientifically nor is it possible to make any inference from them. Such information must be collected first.

  • The data are appropriate − Before examining the data for interpretation, the researcher must check the data's appropriateness. Inappropriate data are the same as no data, and as a result, a conclusion can only be reached with sufficient evidence.

  • The data are correctly classified and tabulated − As a prerequisite, all forms of interpretations must be based on systematically classified and tabulated facts and information.

  • The data are scientifically studied − The data must be carefully assessed before concluding. Even the most meticulously collected data can be ruined by incorrect analysis.

There is every chance of achieving a better and more representative outcome if the interpretation is based on consistent, correct, appropriate, acceptable, and scientifically examined data. As a result of the above arguments, it is critical to satisfy all of the prerequisites/pre-conditions of interpretation to reach superior conclusions.


A generalization is a statement whose scope exceeds the available evidence, and induction by simple enumeration is the technique through which such generalizations are formed. For generalization, two approaches are typically used: 1) the logical method and 2) the statistical method. There are more ways for generalization, but these two are the most commonly utilized.

Logical Method

John Stuart Mill initially proposed this strategy, stating that generalization should be founded on logical processes. Mill believed that establishing causal links was the most important task in generalization. Generalization can be done with confidence if incidental connections hold. Mill provided five ways of experimental investigation. These strategies are used to find causal relationships. These are the methods−

  • According to the agreement technique, if two or more examples of phenomena under examination have just one situation, the circumstance is the source or consequence of the provided phenomenon. For example, a person may have eye discomfort when walking in the light. On the negative side, he is not in agony while in the shade. As a result, wandering in the sun is a source of discomfort.

  • The Method of Difference is a hybrid of positive and negative agreement procedures. This approach requires two instances. The two occurrences are identical in every other way except for the lack or presence of the observed phenomena. The effect, or cause, is the situation in which the two cases differ. Let us consider Mill's example. A man is shot, injured, and dies. The wound is the sole thing that distinguishes the man alive from the man dead in this case. As a result, the wound is the cause of death.

  • The Joint Method of Agreement and Difference combines the methods of agreement and difference. This solution necessitates the use of two sets of instances. This method can be stated as follows: If two or more instances of the phenomenon share only one circumstance. In comparison, two or more instances of the phenomenon do not share anything except the absence of that circumstance; the circumstance in which the two sets of instances differ is the effect or the cause.

  • The Residues Method is based on the notion of elimination. The method asserts that you deduct from each phenomenon the part that prior inductions have shown to be the impact of particular antecedents, and the residue of the phenomenon is the influence of the remaining antecedents.

Statistical Method

Statistical methods are all about gathering, presenting, analyzing, and interpreting numerical data. Thus, the statistical technique consists of four steps:

  • Data Collection − The facts relevant to the subject under investigation must be gathered through either a survey technique, an observation method, an experiment, or a library.

  • Data Presentation − The data obtained should be processed through categorization and tabulation before being displayed comprehensibly.

  • Data Analysis − The processed data should next be appropriately evaluated using statistical methods such as measures of central tendency, measures of variation, measures of skewness, correlation, time series, index numbers, and so on.

  • Data Interpretation − The obtained and processed data must be interpreted. It entails explaining facts and data as well as forming assumptions and conclusions.

Statistical Fallacies

Data interpretation is a challenging activity that needs attention, objectivity, competence, and judgment. Without these factors, the data is likely to be abused. In reality, experience reveals that most errors are made deliberately or unknowingly while reading statistical data, which might lead to data misinterpretation by most readers. Statistical errors can occur at any point in the data collection, presentation, analysis, and interpretation. The following are some particular instances of how statistics might be misconstrued, (ii) sources of mistakes leading to incorrect generalizations and (iii) examples of how fallacies originate in statistical data and methodologies.

  • Inconsistency in Definitions − False conclusions are sometimes drawn due to failing to adequately define the thing being examined and holding that definition in mind for comparisons. When comparing the working capital of two companies, the net working capital of one must be compared to the net working capital of the other, not the gross working capital. Keeping the definition constant inside the company is crucial to facilitate comparison across time.

  • Faulty Generalizations − Too often, individuals leap to conclusions or make generalizations based on a sample that is either too small or not typical of the population.

  • Wrong Conclusions − Sometimes incorrect inferences are derived from data.

  • Inappropriate Comparisons − Comparisons between two objects are only possible if they are similar. Unfortunately, this aspect is frequently overlooked, and comparisons between two distinct objects are made, leading to erroneous conclusions.

  • Misuse of Statistical Techniques − Statistical tools such as measures of central tendency, measures of variation, measures of correlation, ratios, percentages, and so on are sometimes misapplied to convey facts in order to persuade the audience or to conceal things.


After collecting and analyzing data, a statistician must develop conclusions and explain their relevance. The process of describing the data after it has been analyzed is known as data interpretation. Interpretation is required because only via interpretation can the researcher explain the relationships and patterns that underpin his results. Before interpretation, the data must be homogenous, adequate, acceptable, and scientifically examined. Certain measures must be taken while interpreting data, such as maintaining impartiality, having a clear grasp of the situation, using only relevant data, comprehending data constraints, and guarding against sources of mistake.

Updated on: 05-Apr-2023


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