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Variables in Research

  1. Joseph S. Rossi,
  2. Peter F. Merenda

Published Online: 30 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy1020

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

How to Cite

Rossi, J. S. and Merenda, P. F. 2010. Variables in Research. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1–2.

Author Information

  1. University of Rhode Island

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 JAN 2010


The term variable has been defined as a “symbol to which numerals or values are assigned.” This generic description, albeit applicable to psychological variables in research, denotes a mathematical basis. Any variable, x or y, therefore implies one of the four basic measurement scales: nominal, ordinal, interval, or ratio. The nature and number of variables available to the researcher are of numerous types. Their relative contributions in research investigations are not fixed but are related primarily to the experimental design involved in the research study. Hence it is difficult, if not impossible, to rank research variables with respect to importance or frequency of use or with respect to any other categorical designation. The discussion of variables that follows should be viewed in this context.


  • correlation methods;
  • experimental designs;
  • experimental methods;
  • factorial designs;
  • Hawthorne effect;
  • research methodology;
  • statistical analysis