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Differences between qualitative and quantitative variables

The term variable in general refers to objects or events susceptible to changes, that is to say, they are events of little stability that may present alterations over time, which makes them consider them inconstant. Differences between qualitative and quantitative variables

From the point of view of statistics, a variable makes mathematical sense, measurable in various cases by adopting different values. These variables can be qualitative variables , which state characteristics and quantitative variables, which express numerical quantities.

Definition of qualitative variables

Qualitative variable is understood as that type of statistical variable that describes qualities, characteristics and / or circumstances of some object, person or eventuality, without the use of numbers, that is, it expresses a non-numerical category, for example, sex (female or male). masculine) of an individual. Differences between qualitative and quantitative variables

They are also known as categorical variables , and in simpler words they are variables that do not affect a natural sense of order, they are measured on a nominal scale.

Types of qualitative variables

These variables can adopt different values, if they only manage to accommodate two values ​​they are called dichotomous, for example: an individual can be “alive” or “dead”, there is no third option.


In this specific case, the qualitative variable can assume a specific value, of 0 or 1.

Example, sex of an individual, male or female. Differences between qualitative and quantitative variables

If the qualitative variable acquires more than two values, it is known as a polynomial, this group, in turn, is divided into nominal variables and ordinal variables.


It is a variable not represented by numbers, so it does not follow an order pattern, which makes it more mathematically imprecise. Differences between qualitative and quantitative variables

Example: The colors, orange, yellow, blue, red, black, etc.


Also known as a quasi-quantitative variable, it incorporates a modality of variable that does not require numbers, but does follow an order pattern.

Example: Socio-economic level, High, medium and low.

Examples of qualitative variables

There may be a wide variety of examples that help us identify a qualitative variable, among these we have: Differences between qualitative and quantitative variables

  • Marital status of an individual: Single, married, divorced, widowed.
  • Non-numerical grade of an evaluation: Excellent, passed, accepted, failed.
  • Eye color of an individual: Black, brown, green, blue, etc.
  • Profession: Engineer, architect, doctor, lawyer, etc.
  • Academic status: Professional, technical, basic.
  • Recognition medals in sports competition: Gold, silver, bronze.
  • Intensity of a sound: intense, moderate, weak.

Qualitative variables characteristics

Next, we present some characteristics of the qualitative variables:

  • The main characteristic of a qualitative variable is that it cannot be measured numerically, nor does it allow the realization of mathematical equations.
  • Does not issue specific data
  • Only occasionally admits an order, but it is not numerical, it is said to be a nominal order.
  • Describes a quality, condition, or characteristic of mathematical devices.
  • They are subdivided according to the number of values ​​it supports.
  • They can be used in different applied studies in fields ranging from economic, social and scientific.
  • It allows carrying out studies based on the qualitative research method , supported by observation, of information collected on behaviors, opinions and open responses for subsequent interpretation. Differences between qualitative and quantitative variables

Differences between qualitative and quantitative variables

On many occasions the qualitative and quantitative aspects are compared or contrasted, forming species of unequal prototypes to address analytical perspectives of events, objects and even production processes . Differences between qualitative and quantitative variables

When talking about statistical variables, two types of variables can be differentiated: qualitative variables and quantitative variables , they present quite specific differences such as:

  • Qualitative variables express values ​​that correspond to qualities, attributes, traits or characteristics, on the other hand, in the case of quantitative variables, values ​​are always expressed with a necessarily numerical range.
  • Qualitative variables focus on the environment of these realities and their dynamics, on the other hand, in the case of quantitative variables, they focus on determining and measuring the strength of a variable in relation to other variables. Differences between qualitative and quantitative variables
  • Both variables are used statistically in the verification of an economic study (statistical), however, qualitative variables provide a general and determined value when dealing with qualities, in the cases of quantitative variables they provide a specific result or value, without any margin. of doubt.

Finally, it is worth mentioning that a quality is a property existing in any individual, object, entity or state, which allows its analysis when making a comparison with another similar one, so that the qualitative aspect obeys the social, cultural and social perception. subjective of the individual.

The term is also used in reference to study and analysis processes focused on quality and quality variables , such as qualitative research, qualitative approaches, qualitative reports, among others.

In this sense, it is important to mention qualitative analysis, which is the study that reveals the properties, characteristics, specific benefits of an object, highlighting its distinctive value. This type of study can be used in different areas, among which social and scientific research stand out, even in production. Differences between qualitative and quantitative variables

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