Chi-Square Test of Independence

The Chi-Square test of independence is used to determine if there is a significant relationship between two nominal (categorical) variables.  The frequency of each category for one nominal variable is compared across the categories of the second nominal variable.  The data can be displayed in a contingency table where each row represents a category for one variable and each column represents a category for the other variable.  For example, say a researcher wants to examine the relationship between gender (male vs. female) and empathy (high vs. low).  The chi-square test of independence can be used to examine this relationship.  The null hypothesis for this test is that there is no relationship between gender and empathy.  The alternative hypothesis is that there is a relationship between gender and empathy (e.g. there are more high-empathy females than high-empathy males).

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Calculate Chi Square Statistic by Hand

First we have to calculate the expected value of the two nominal variables.  We can calculate the expected value of the two nominal variables by using this formula:


= expected value

= Sum of the ith column

= Sum of the kth row

N = total number

After calculating the expected value, we will apply the following formula to calculate the value of the Chi-Square test of Independence:

= Chi-Square test of Independence
= Observed value of two nominal variables
= Expected value of two nominal variables

Degree of freedom is calculated by using the following formula:
DF = (r-1)(c-1)
DF = Degree of freedom
r = number of rows
c = number of columns


Null hypothesis: Assumes that there is no association between the two variables.

Alternative hypothesis: Assumes that there is an association between the two variables.

Hypothesis testing: Hypothesis testing for the chi-square test of independence as it is for other tests like ANOVA, where a test statistic is computed and compared to a critical value.  The critical value for the chi-square statistic is determined by the level of significance (typically .05) and the degrees of freedom.  The degrees of freedom for the chi-square are calculated using the following formula: df = (r-1)(c-1) where r is the number of rows and c is the number of columns. If the observed chi-square test statistic is greater than the critical value, the null hypothesis can be rejected.

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