One sample z test for the mean - overview

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One sample $z$ test for the mean
Two sample $z$ test
Independent variableIndependent/grouping variable
NoneOne categorical with 2 independent groups
Dependent variableDependent variable
One quantitative of interval or ratio levelOne quantitative of interval or ratio level
Null hypothesisNull hypothesis
H0: $\mu = \mu_0$

$\mu$ is the population mean; $\mu_0$ is the population mean according to the null hypothesis
H0: $\mu_1 = \mu_2$

$\mu_1$ is the population mean for group 1, $\mu_2$ is the population mean for group 2
Alternative hypothesisAlternative hypothesis
H1 two sided: $\mu \neq \mu_0$
H1 right sided: $\mu > \mu_0$
H1 left sided: $\mu < \mu_0$
H1 two sided: $\mu_1 \neq \mu_2$
H1 right sided: $\mu_1 > \mu_2$
H1 left sided: $\mu_1 < \mu_2$
AssumptionsAssumptions
  • Scores are normally distributed in the population
  • Population standard deviation $\sigma$ is known
  • Sample is a simple random sample from the population. That is, observations are independent of one another
  • Within each population, the scores on the dependent variable are normally distributed
  • Population standard deviations $\sigma_1$ and $\sigma_2$ are known
  • 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
Test statisticTest statistic
$z = \dfrac{\bar{y} - \mu_0}{\sigma / \sqrt{N}}$
$\bar{y}$ is the sample mean, $\mu_0$ is the population mean according to the null hypothesis, $\sigma$ is the population standard deviation, $N$ is the sample size.

The denominator $\sigma / \sqrt{N}$ is the standard deviation of the sampling distribution of $\bar{y}$. The $z$ value indicates how many of these standard deviations $\bar{y}$ is removed from $\mu_0$.
$z = \dfrac{(\bar{y}_1 - \bar{y}_2) - 0}{\sqrt{\dfrac{\sigma^2_1}{n_1} + \dfrac{\sigma^2_2}{n_2}}} = \dfrac{\bar{y}_1 - \bar{y}_2}{\sqrt{\dfrac{\sigma^2_1}{n_1} + \dfrac{\sigma^2_2}{n_2}}}$
$\bar{y}_1$ is the sample mean in group 1, $\bar{y}_2$ is the sample mean in group 2, $\sigma^2_1$ is the population variance in population 1, $\sigma^2_2$ is the population variance in population 2, $n_1$ is the sample size of group 1, $n_2$ is the sample size of group 2. The 0 represents the difference in population means according to the null hypothesis.

The denominator $\sqrt{\frac{\sigma^2_1}{n_1} + \frac{\sigma^2_2}{n_2}}$ is the standard deviation of the sampling distribution of $\bar{y}_1 - \bar{y}_2$. The $z$ value indicates how many of these standard deviations $\bar{y}_1 - \bar{y}_2$ 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 $z$ if H0 were trueSampling distribution of $z$ if H0 were true
Standard normal distributionStandard normal distribution
Significant?Significant?
Two sided: Right sided: Left sided: Two sided: Right sided: Left sided:
$C\%$ confidence interval for $\mu$$C\%$ confidence interval for $\mu_1 - \mu_2$
$\bar{y} \pm z^* \times \dfrac{\sigma}{\sqrt{N}}$
where $z^*$ 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)

The confidence interval for $\mu$ can also be used as significance test.
$(\bar{y}_1 - \bar{y}_2) \pm z^* \times \sqrt{\dfrac{\sigma^2_1}{n_1} + \dfrac{\sigma^2_2}{n_2}}$
where $z^*$ 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)

The confidence interval for $\mu_1 - \mu_2$ can also be used as significance test.
Effect sizen.a.
Cohen's $d$:
Standardized difference between the sample mean and $\mu_0$: $$d = \frac{\bar{y} - \mu_0}{\sigma}$$ Indicates how many standard deviations $\sigma$ the sample mean $\bar{y}$ is removed from $\mu_0$
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Visual representationVisual representation
One sample z test
Two sample z test
Example contextExample context
Is the average mental health score of office workers different from $\mu_0$ = 50? Assume that the standard deviation of the mental health scores in the population is $\sigma$ = 3.Is the average mental health score different between men and women? Assume that in the population, the standard devation of the mental health scores is $\sigma_1$ = 2 amongst men and $\sigma_2$ = 2.5 amongst women.
Practice questionsPractice questions