8.3 - Paired Means

In Lesson 1 we learned about independent samples and paired samples. When we have two independent samples, the observations in the two groups are unrelated to one another and are not matched in any meaningful way. We'll learn how to compare the means of two independent groups in Lesson 9.

With paired samples, the observations in the two groups are matched in a meaningful way. These are also known as dependent samples. Most often this occurs when data are collected twice from the same participants, called repeated measures. For example, think of studying the effectiveness of a diet plan. You would weigh each participant prior to starting the diet and again following some time on the diet. Depending on how much weight they lost you would determine if the diet was effective. Paired data does not always need to involve two measurements on the same subject; it can also involve taking one measurement on each of two related subjects. For example, we may study husband-wife pairs, mother-son pairs, or pairs of twins.

In constructing a dependent samples confidence interval or conducting a dependent samples hypothesis test, the difference score is computed for each individual or pair. From there, the procedures are the same that you used for constructing confidence intervals and hypothesis tests for single sample means. As with one sample mean, if the sample size is at least 30, the sampling distribution for the difference in paired means can be approximated using a \(t\) distribution. 

In terms of symbols, the population parameter of interest is the mean difference in the population "\(\mu_d\)." This is estimated using the mean difference in the sample "\(\overline x_d\)."