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What is Ordinal Data?

What is Ordinal Data?

Ordinal Data plays an important role in various fields, including market research, psychology, and healthcare. It helps researchers and decision-makers understand patterns and trends in attitudes, opinions, and behaviors, allowing them to make informed decisions and develop effective strategies.

It has some limitations, such as the difficulty in determining the difference between the categories. In addition, it can also be subject to biases and errors in the data collection process.

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What is Ordinal Data?

Ordinal Data is a type of categorical data that assigns categories or labels to variables in a specific order or ranking. Ordinal Data has categories that are not only distinct but also have a meaningful order or ranking.

Ordinal Data is often used in social sciences and market research to measure attitudes, opinions, and preferences. It is typically collected through surveys, questionnaires, or rating scales.

The order or ranking in Ordinal Data can be used to create meaningful comparisons and draw inferences about the relationships between variables, but it is important to note that the distances between the categories are not necessarily equal or meaningful.

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Ordinal Data Examples

Ordinal Data Examples

Ordinal Data is a type of categorical data that has a clear ordering or ranking. Here are some of the Ordinal Data examples:

Example 1:

Likert Scale:

  • Strongly Disagree- 1
  • Disagree- 2
  • Neutral- 3
  • Agree- 4
  • Strongly Agree- 5

This type of data is often used in surveys or questionnaires, where participants are asked to rate their agreement or satisfaction with a statement on a scale from 1 to 5. The numbers in the scale have a clear order and indicate increasing levels of agreement.

Example 2:

Educational Qualifications:

  • High School
  • Associates Degree
  • Bachelor’s Degree
  • Master’s Degree
  • Doctorate

Here in the above example, the educational qualifications are ranked in order of increasing level of education. Each level of education has a clear ordering and the numbers assigned to each level indicate the level of education achieved by an individual.

A person who has a Bachelor’s Degree is considered to have a higher level of education than someone with a High School diploma, and so on.

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Ordinal Data Characteristics

The characteristics of Ordinal Data are important to keep in mind when analyzing and interpreting Ordinal Data.

Below are a few Ordinal Data characteristics that you must know:

  • Ordinal Data has a clear ordering or ranking, meaning that the values can be sorted in a specific order. In other words, there is a relationship between the values, and one value is greater or less than another.
  • It is not numerical, meaning that the values cannot be treated as numerical data for the purposes of mathematical operations such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division.
  • The Ordinal Data type belongs to a specific category or group. The categories are usually defined by the researcher or the data collector and can be based on a particular characteristic, such as level of education or level of satisfaction.
  • It has limited variability, meaning that the range of values is limited to a specific set of categories. In most cases, the categories are defined by the researcher or data collector and cannot be changed.
  • Ordinal Data is non-interval, meaning that the difference between values is not meaningful. For example, the difference between “Strongly Disagree” and “Disagree” on a Likert Scale cannot be quantified in terms of numerical value.

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How to Analyze Ordinal Data

There are several statistical techniques that can be used to analyze Ordinal Data. It is important to choose the appropriate statistical technique for analyzing Ordinal Data based on the research question and the data itself.

Below are several techniques to analyze Ordinal Data, and they have been discussed in the following points:

  • Bar charts are a graphical representation of the data that can be used to visually display the distribution of the categories. Bar charts are particularly useful for comparing the frequency of different categories and for identifying any patterns or trends in the data.
  • Pie charts are a circular representation of the data that can be used to show the proportion of each category in the data. Pie charts are particularly useful for displaying the distribution of the data in a compact and visually appealing format.
  • The analysis of Ordinal Data can be done simply using frequency tables.  It involves counting the number of occurrences of each category in the data and presenting the results in a table format. Frequency tables can be used to find the most common categories in the data as well as any exceptions or unexpected values.
  • Cross-tabulations involve creating a table that shows the frequency of each category in the data, organized by another variable. Cross-tabulations can be used to examine the relationship between two or more variables and to identify any patterns or trends in the data.
  • Non-parametric tests are statistical tests that do not assume a normal distribution of the data. They are particularly useful for analyzing Ordinal Data, as they do not require the data to be normally distributed.

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Difference between Nominal and Ordinal Data

Nominal Data vs Ordinal Data
                   Nominal Data                     Ordinal Data
Nominal Data has no inherent ordering or ranking. Ordinal Data has a clear ordering or ranking.
Example- Hair colors of brown, black, blonde, red, etc are Nominal Data because the categories have no inherent order. Example- A Likert scale response: Strongly Disagree, Disagree, Neutral, Agree, and Strongly Agree are Ordinal Data because the categories have a clear order.
With Nominal Data, mathematical operations such as addition, subtraction, and division are not applicable. With Ordinal Data, some mathematical operations are possible, such as determining the difference between two categories or finding the median or mode.
Nominal Data is measured on a nominal scale, which is the lowest level of the measurement scale. Ordinal Data are measured on an ordinal scale, which is one step higher than the nominal scale and allows for the ranking of categories.

Conclusion

You can choose the appropriate method for analyzing and interpreting the data by being aware of the examples and characteristics of Ordinal Data that we discussed above in this blog.

You can find valuable insights and trends in Ordinal Data by applying the proper statistical techniques, which can help to shape public policy, business decisions, and other types of developments. It is important to become familiar with the fundamentals of this significant Ordinal Data type, whether you are a data analyst, a student, or simply someone as a beginner who wants to better understand Ordinal Data.

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About the Author

Senior Research Analyst

As a Senior Research Analyst, Arya Karn brings expertise in crafting compelling technical content in Data Science and Machine Learning. With extensive knowledge in AI/ML, NLP, DBMS, and Generative AI, his works get lakhs of views across social platforms that benefit both technical and business spheres.