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The SAGE Encyclopedia of Social Science Research Methods

Michael S. Lewis-Beck & Alan Bryman & Tim Futing Liao

Pub. date: 2004 | DOI:

Print ISBN: 9780761923633 | Online ISBN: 9781412950589

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Encyclopedia Entry

Dichotomous Variables

Timothy M. Hagle

A dichotomous variable is one that takes on one of only two possible values when observed or measured. The value is most often a representation for a measured variable (e.g., age: under 65/65 and over) or an attribute (e.g., gender: male/female). If the dichotomous variable represents another variable, that underlying variable may be either observed or unobserved. For example, a dichotomous variable may be used to indicate whether a piece of legislation passed. The dichotomous variable (pass/fail) is a representation of the actual, and observable, vote on the legislation. In contrast, each legislator's vote is the result of an individual, and unobserved, probability distribution between voting either ...

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