The three measures of central tendency include the mean, the median, and the mode. To decide which of the three measures is best for any particular distribution, you should keep in mind that the general purpose of central tendency is to find the single most representative score (Gravetter, Wallnau, & Witnauer, 2021, pg. 76). It is most appropriate to use the mean when scores are represented with numerical values. It is appropriate to use the median when a distribution has few extreme scores or is skewed. The median is also best when there are undetermined values, open-ended distributions or ordinal data. The mode should be used when there is data being measured on nominal scales, when there are discrete variables, or when trying to describe a shape. The mean, median, and mode can be located in SPSS by clicking on the Analyze tab. Under Analyze you can click descriptive statistics, then frequencies, then move your variable over, and click statistics. It is important for a researcher to find the central tendency because it will allow them to see the value in the center of the distribution which is also the value that represents the distribution the best.
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