::Variable and attribute (research)


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In science and research, attribute is a characteristic of an object (person, thing, etc.).<ref name=babbie>Earl R. Babbie, The Practice of Social Research", 12th edition, Wadsworth Publishing, 2009, ISBN 0-495-59841-0, p. 14-18</ref> Attributes are closely related to variables. Variable is a logical set of attributes.<ref name=babbie/> Variables can "vary" - for example, be high or low.<ref name=babbie/> How high, or how low, is determined by the value of the attribute (and in fact, an attribute could be just the word "low" or "high").<ref name=babbie/> (For example see: Binary option)

While an attribute is often intuitive, the variable is the operationalized way in which the attribute is represented for further data processing. In data processing data are often represented by a combination of items (objects organized in rows), and multiple variables (organized in columns).

Values of each variable statistically "vary" (or are distributed) across the variable's domain. Domain is a set of all possible values that a variable is allowed to have. The values are ordered in a logical way and must be defined for each variable. Domains can be bigger or smaller. The smallest possible domains have those variables that can only have two values, also called binary (or dichotomous) variables. Bigger domains have non-dichotomous variables and the ones with a higher level of measurement. (See also domain of discourse.)

Variable and attribute (research) sections
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