Sociology Index

VARIABLES

Variable is a term central to quantitative sociology and to macro-structural sociology. The term variable refers to that which varies, rather than being constant. In particular variable's reference is to structural features that vary (things like gender, age, race, social class) and have an influence on behavior or attitudinal variables (discrimination or attitudes about abortion).

Scientists use an experiment to search for cause and effect relationships in nature. In other words, they design an experiment so that changes to one item cause something else to vary in a predictable way.

These changing quantities are called variables. A variable is any factor, trait, or condition that can exist in differing amounts or types. An experiment usually has three kinds of variables: independent variable, dependent variable, and controlled variable.

Researchers work out ways to measure these variables (often by asking questions) and determine their importance in understanding human behaviour. Those variables thought to be causal variables are called independent variables and those thought to be effects are called dependent variables.

Independent variable is a technical term used in empirical research to denote a phenomenon whose existence causes or explains the presence of another variable.

Dependent variable is a technical term used in empirical research to denote a phenomenon that is caused by or explained by something else.

A variable has two or more values; the variable of sex, for example, has the values of female and male.

In mathematics, a variable often represents an unknown quantity that has the potential to change.

 In computer science, a variable represents a place where a quantity can be stored. 

Variables are often contrasted with constants, which are known and unchanging.

The term variable has a similar meaning in the physical sciences and engineering. 

A variable is a quantity whose value may vary over the course of an experiment (including simulations), across samples, during the operation of a system.

Variables are generally distinct from parameters, although what is a variable in one context may be a parameter in another.

In applied statistics, a variable is a measurable factor, characteristic, or attribute of an individual or a system.