Two sample z test - overview

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Two sample $z$ test
Goodness of fit test
Independent variableIndependent variable
One categorical with 2 independent groupsNone
Dependent variableDependent variable
One quantitative of interval or ratio levelOne categorical with $J$ independent groups ($J \geqslant 2$)
Null hypothesisNull hypothesis
$\mu_1 = \mu_2$
$\mu_1$ is the unknown mean in population 1, $\mu_2$ is the unknown mean in population 2
  • The population proportions in each of the $J$ conditions are $\pi_1$, $\pi_2$, $\ldots$, $\pi_J$
or equivalently
  • The probability of drawing an observation from condition 1 is $\pi_1$, the probability of drawing an observation from condition 2 is $\pi_2$, $\ldots$, the probability of drawing an observation from condition $J$ is $\pi_J$
Alternative hypothesisAlternative hypothesis
Two sided: $\mu_1 \neq \mu_2$
Right sided: $\mu_1 > \mu_2$
Left sided: $\mu_1 < \mu_2$
  • The population proportions are not all as specified under the null hypothesis
or equivalently
  • The probabilities of drawing an observation from each of the conditions are not all as specified under the null hypothesis
AssumptionsAssumptions
  • 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
  • Sample size is large enough for $X^2$ to be approximately chi-squared distributed. Rule of thumb: all $J$ expected cell counts are 5 or more
  • Sample is a simple random sample from the population. That is, observations are independent of one another
Test statisticTest statistic
$z = \dfrac{(\bar{y}_1 - \bar{y}_2) - 0}{\sqrt{\dfrac{\sigma^2_1}{n_1} + \dfrac{\sigma^2_2}{n_2}}} = \dfrac{\bar{y}_1 - \bar{y}_2}{\sqrt{\dfrac{\sigma^2_1}{n_1} + \dfrac{\sigma^2_2}{n_2}}}$
$\bar{y}_1$ 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 H0.

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 $\mu_2 > \mu_1$
$X^2 = \sum{\frac{(\mbox{observed cell count} - \mbox{expected cell count})^2}{\mbox{expected cell count}}}$
where the expected cell count for one cell = $N \times \pi_j$, the observed cell count is the observed sample count in that same cell, and the sum is over all $J$ cells
Sampling distribution of $z$ if H0 were trueSampling distribution of $X^2$ if H0 were true
Standard normalApproximately a chi-squared distribution with $J - 1$ degrees of freedom
Significant?Significant?
Two sided: Right sided: Left sided:
  • 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 $\alpha$
$C\%$ confidence interval for $\mu_1 - \mu_2$n.a.
$(\bar{y}_1 - \bar{y}_2) \pm z^* \times \sqrt{\dfrac{\sigma^2_1}{n_1} + \dfrac{\sigma^2_2}{n_2}}$
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.
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Visual representationn.a.
Two sample z test
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Example contextExample context
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.Is the proportion of people with a low, moderate, and high social economic status in the population different from $\pi_{low}$ = .2, $\pi_{moderate}$ = .6, and $\pi_{high}$ = .2?
n.a.SPSS
-Analyze > Nonparametric Tests > Legacy Dialogs > Chi-square...
  • Put your categorical variable in the box below Test Variable List
  • Fill in the population proportions / probabilities according to $H_0$ in the box below Expected Values. If $H_0$ states that they are all equal, just pick 'All categories equal' (default)
n.a.Jamovi
-Frequencies > N Outcomes - $\chi^2$ Goodness of fit
  • Put your categorical variable in the box below Variable
  • Click on Expected Proportions and fill in the population proportions / probabilities according to $H_0$ in the boxes below Ratio. If $H_0$ states that they are all equal, you can leave the ratios equal to the default values (1)
Practice questionsPractice questions