Sign test  overview
This page offers structured overviews of one or more selected methods. Add additional methods for comparisons by clicking on the dropdown button in the righthand column. To practice with a specific method click the button at the bottom row of the table
Sign test  Binomial test for a single proportion  Wilcoxon signedrank test  Goodness of fit test 


Independent variable  Independent variable  Independent variable  Independent variable  
2 paired groups  None  2 paired groups  None  
Dependent variable  Dependent variable  Dependent variable  Dependent variable  
One of ordinal level  One categorical with 2 independent groups  One quantitative of interval or ratio level  One categorical with $J$ independent groups ($J \geqslant 2$)  
Null hypothesis  Null hypothesis  Null hypothesis  Null hypothesis  
 H_{0}: $\pi = \pi_0$
Here $\pi$ is the population proportion of 'successes', and $\pi_0$ is the population proportion of successes according to the null hypothesis.  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. 
 
Alternative hypothesis  Alternative hypothesis  Alternative hypothesis  Alternative hypothesis  
 H_{1} two sided: $\pi \neq \pi_0$ H_{1} right sided: $\pi > \pi_0$ H_{1} left sided: $\pi < \pi_0$  H_{1} two sided: $m \neq 0$ H_{1} right sided: $m > 0$ H_{1} left sided: $m < 0$ 
 
Assumptions  Assumptions  Assumptions  Assumptions  



 
Test statistic  Test statistic  Test statistic  Test statistic  
$W = $ number of difference scores that is larger than 0  $X$ = number of successes in the sample  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:
 $X^2 = \sum{\frac{(\mbox{observed cell count}  \mbox{expected cell count})^2}{\mbox{expected cell count}}}$
Here 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 $W$ if H_{0} were true  Sampling distribution of $X$ if H0 were true  Sampling distribution of $W_1$ and of $W_2$ if H_{0} were true  Sampling distribution of $X^2$ if H_{0} were true  
The 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 $\sqrt{nP(1P)} = \sqrt{n \times 0.5(1  0.5)}$. 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.  Binomial($n$, $P$) distribution.
Here $n = N$ (total sample size), and $P = \pi_0$ (population proportion according to the null hypothesis).  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 chisquared distribution with $J  1$ degrees of freedom  
Significant?  Significant?  Significant?  Significant?  
If $n$ is small, the table for the binomial distribution should be used: Two sided:
If $n$ is large, the table for standard normal probabilities can be used: Two sided:
 Two sided:
 For large samples, the table for standard normal probabilities can be used: Two sided:

 
Equivalent to  n.a.  n.a.  n.a.  
Two sided sign test is equivalent to
       
Example context  Example context  Example context  Example context  
Do people tend to score higher on mental health after a mindfulness course?  Is the proportion of smokers amongst office workers different from $\pi_0 = 0.2$?  Is the median of the differences between the mental health scores before and after an intervention different from 0?  Is the proportion of people with a low, moderate, and high social economic status in the population different from $\pi_{low} = 0.2,$ $\pi_{moderate} = 0.6,$ and $\pi_{high} = 0.2$?  
SPSS  SPSS  SPSS  SPSS  
Analyze > Nonparametric Tests > Legacy Dialogs > 2 Related Samples...
 Analyze > Nonparametric Tests > Legacy Dialogs > Binomial...
 Analyze > Nonparametric Tests > Legacy Dialogs > 2 Related Samples...
 Analyze > Nonparametric Tests > Legacy Dialogs > Chisquare...
 
Jamovi  Jamovi  Jamovi  Jamovi  
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
 Frequencies > 2 Outcomes  Binomial test
 TTests > Paired Samples TTest
 Frequencies > N Outcomes  $\chi^2$ Goodness of fit
 
Practice questions  Practice questions  Practice questions  Practice questions  