Statistics for The Behavioral and Social Sciences: A Brief Course

Arthur Aron / Elliot J. Coups / Elaine N. Aron  
Total pages
July 2013
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Statistics for The Behavioral and Social Sciences: A Brief Course
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For one-quarter/semester courses that focus on the basics in statistics or combine statistics with research methods.

The fifth edition of Statistics for the Behavioral and Social Sciences builds off an already well-established approach - emphasizing the intuitive, deemphasizing the mathematical, and explaining everything in direct, simple language - but also goes beyond these principles to further student understanding. By using definitional formulas to emphasize the concepts of statistics, rather than rote memorization, students work problems in a way that keeps them constantly aware of the underlying logic of what they are doing.


Definitional formulas are brought to center stage because they provide a concise symbolic summary of the logic of each particular procedure. All explanations, examples, practice problems, and test bank items are based on these definitional formulas. Students work problems in a way that keeps them constantly aware of the underlying logic of what they are doing Each procedure is taught both verbally and numerically—and usually visually as well.

  • Every formula has attached to it a concise statement of the formula in words.
  • Practice problems and test bank items, in turn, require the student to calculate results, write a short explanation in layperson’s language of what they have done, and make a sketch (for example, of the distributions involved in a t test).

The text capitalizes on the students’ motivations in two major ways.

    • First, the examples, while attempting to represent the diversity of behavioral and social science research, emphasize topics or populations that students seem to find most interesting. The examples continually emphasize the usefulness of statistical methods and ideas as tools in the research process, never allowing students to feel that what they are learning is theory for the sake of theory.
    • Second, the authors have worked to make the book extremely straightforward and systematic in its explanation of basic concepts so that students can have frequent “aha!” experiences. Such experiences bolster self-confidence and motivate further learning.

Emphasis on statistical methods as a living, growing field of research.

    • Each chapter includes a “box” about famous statisticians or interesting side-lights. The goal is for students to see statistical methods as human efforts to make sense out of the jumble of numbers generated by a research study; to see that statistics are not “given” by nature, not infallible, not perfect descriptions of the events they try to describe, but rather constitute a language that is constantly improving through the careful thought of those who use it.

Preparing students to read research articles.

  • As this text teaches a statistical method it also gives examples of how that method is reported in journal articles.
  • Practice problems and test bank items also include excerpts from journal articles for the student to explain.

A Web Chapter (available at that looks at advanced procedures without actually teaching them in detail. It explains in simple terms how to make sense out of these statistics when they are encountered in research articles.

Do your students have access to the most recent and relevant topics in statistics?

The most up-to-date research available.

  • While firmly emphasizing the basis, the text accounts for advances in the field as they relate today.
  • Now, basics are undergirded by a new appreciation of issues like effect size, power, the accumulation of results through meta-analysis, the critical role of models, and a whole host of new orientations arising from the central role of the computer in statistical analyses. The authors are much engaged in the latest developments in statistical theory and application, and this book reflects that engagement.
  • For example, an entire early chapter is devoted to effect size and power and then return to these topics as we teach each technique.

Instructor Resources:

  • The authors have written an In

New to this Edition

General Changes

  • Most of the research articles in each chapter’s “... in Research Articles” section were updated with diverse, engaging examples published in peer-reviewed journals in the past two to three years. Research topics covered now include:
  • Electronic bullying among adolescents
  • Gender perceptions of information and communication technologies
  • Family socioeconomic status and children’s blood levels of lead
  • Scrabble playing among expert players
  • Awareness of national physical activity recommendations for health promotion among adults
  • Video-game use among American youth
  • The effect of color on IQ test performance
  • A weight loss intervention for older individuals diagnosed with cancer
  • Psychological treatments of emotional and behavioral problems among ethnic minority youth
  • The ease of pronunciation of food additives and their perceived harmfulness
  • Facebook use among university students
  • Mindfulness, gender, and academic performance among students
  • The gender and age of characters on cereal boxes
  • The positive effects of playing prosocial video games
  • The relationship between students’ alcohol intake and their use of strategies to control drinking
  • Whether students report seeing color in their dreams
  • All of the “Using SPSS” sections were updated to use SPSS 17.0.
  • Throughout the book, references have been updated or added to the most recent relevant sources (for example, in Ch.12 we added references to recently published books and chapters that address the issue of conducting research using computerized and Internet methods)
  • Throughout the book, changes have been made to the text to simplify exposition, particularly in the more demanding conceptual material (which will further help students master these central ideas).
  • Web chapter that was available on companion website in the 4th edition will now be posted on the Instructor's Resource Center ( There is no companion website for the 5th edition.

Changes to Each Chapter

Chapter 1 Displaying the Order in a Group of Numbers Using Tables and Graphs

· Frequency tables are now constructed going from the lowest value to the highest value (which provides consistency with the approach used in SPSS)

· To keep the book brief, and to maintain the focus on histograms (which more commonly appear in actual journal articles), the material on frequency polygons was removed

Chapter 2 The Mean, Variance, Standard Deviation, and Z Scores

· The median is now calculated after lining up the scores from the lowest value to the highest value

· A new section heading was added , “Comparing Representative Values”, and the income values in the first paragraph in that section were updated

· In the “Variability” section, the ages of the students described in the first paragraph were updated

Chapter 3 Correlation and Prediction

· An example (from a 2009 research study) of the use of the correlation coefficient for test-retest reliability is now included in the “... in Research Articles” section

Chapter 4 Some Key Ingredients for Inferential Statistics: The Normal Curve, Sample versus Population, and Probability

· In the “Why the Normal Curve is so Common in Nature section”, a paragraph was added to

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 - Displaying the Order in a Group of Numbers Using Tables and Graphs


Chapter 2 - The Mean, Variance, Standard Deviation, and Z Scores


Chapter 3 - Correlation and Prediction


Chapter 4 - Some Key Ingredients for Inferential Statistics: The Normal Curve, Sample Versus Population, and Probability


Chapter 5 - Introduction to Hypothesis Testing


Chapter 6 - Hypothesis Tests with Means of Samples


Chapter 7 - Making Sense of Statistical Significance: Effect Size and Statistical Power


Chapter 8 - Introduction to the t Test: Single Sample and Dependent Means


Chapter 9 - The t Test for Independent Means


Chapter 10 - Introduction to the Analysis of Variance


Chapter 11- Chi-Square Tests and Strategies When Population Distributions Are Not Normal


Chapter 12 - Applying Statistical Methods in Your Own Research Project


Arthur Aron, Ph.D.

Dr. Aron is Professor of Psychology at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, Director of the Stony Brook Interpersonal Relationships Lab (, and Co-Director of the Stony Brook Social, Cognitive, and Affective Neuroscience Center. His research centers on the self-expansion model of motivation and cognition in personal relationships and intergroup relations, including the neural underpinnings and real-world applications of the model to close relationships and intergroup relations. He has published more than 100 scientific papers, including two foundational papers in collaboration with Dr. Elaine Aron on his basic theoretical model that have more than 500 citations; and his earliest one, on the “shaky bridge study,” has become a classic in the field and is cited in nearly every introductory psychology text, social psychology text, and psychology methods text published in the last 20 years. He currently serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Psychological Science, Personal Relationships, and Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. He is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, the Association for Psychological Science, the Society of Personality and Social Psychology, and the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues. He has received major grants from the National Science Foundation, the Templeton Foundation, the Fetzer Foundation, and the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada. He recently received the Distinguished Research Career Award from the International Association for Relationship Research.

Elliot J. Coups, Ph.D.

Dr. Coups is Associate Professor of Medicine at UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and a faculty member in the Division of Public Health Science at The Cancer Institute of New Jersey. He received his PhD in social/health psychology from Rutgers University and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in cancer prevention and control at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Dr. Coups’ primary area of research focuses on understanding and promoting health-related behaviors among cancer survivors. His research in this area has included identifying the prevalence and correlates of physical activity among lung cancer survivors, testing the feasibility of an Internet-based weight loss intervention for colorectal cancer survivors, and examining longitudinal changes in health behaviors among individuals completing treatment for colorectal cancer. Dr. Coups also conducts research to identify the prevalence, patterns, and correlates of behavioral risk factors for cancer among the general adult population. The goal of Dr. Coups’ research program is to develop innovative, theory-driven health behavior interventions that enhance the quality of life of cancer survivors and those at risk for cancer. Dr. Coups has published more than 40 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters, and his research has been supported by grants from the Lance Armstrong Foundation and the National Cancer Institute.

Elaine N. Aron, Ph.D.

Dr. Aron is a researcher, writer, and clinical psycholgist in private practice. Her most widely cited work focuses on the innate temperament/personality trait of sensory processing sensitivity, with research ranging from in-depth qualitatve interviews to laboratory experiments, representative surveys, and neuroimaging studies. She is also well known for her research in collaboration with Dr. Arthur Aron on close relationships, including two seminal books. She has published more than 40 research papers and has g