Date: Mon, 7 Mar 2011 23:41:14 -0800
Reply-To: Bridgette Portman <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sender: "SPSSX(r) Discussion" <SPSSX-L@LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
From: Bridgette Portman <email@example.com>
Subject: T-test or nonparametric test? Confused.
This is a rather elementary statistics question and I feel kind of stupid
asking it. But I've managed to thoroughly confuse myself. I hope someone
can help me out.
I've collected survey data from 260 respondents. As I'm analyzing
demographic information, I have noticed that the distribution of ages in
my sample is not normal. In fact, it is bimodal, with peaks around 20 and
60, and a trough around 40. This was due to my sampling method, not to any
intrinsic pattern in the population I was sampling from. I want to be able
to compare ages between various groups, such as men and women, in my
sample. But can I use a t-test, given the abnormal distribution? Should I
use a nonparametric test like Mann-Whitney U instead?
The reason I'm confused is that the bimodality is in my sample alone, do
to my sampling technique. The ages in the population as a whole, I'm sure,
has an underlying normal distribution. I am studying political activists,
and in order to get at them, I sampled from a) college student political
clubs, and b) actual political parties. The college kids tended to be
around 20, while the party people were 50+. I know one alternative would
be to just recode age into something like "below 40" and "above 40" but
I'd rather avoid doing that if I can.
Can anyone offer advice?
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