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A note on preliminary tests of equality of variances


A note on preliminary tests of equality of variances



British Journal of Mathematical and Statistical Psychology 57(Pt 1): 173-181



ISSN/ISBN: 0007-1102

PMID: 15171807

DOI: 10.1348/000711004849222

Preliminary tests of equality of variances used before a test of location are no longer widely recommended by statisticians, although they persist in some textbooks and software packages. The present study extends the findings of previous studies and provides further reasons for discontinuing the use of preliminary tests. The study found Type I error rates of a two-stage procedure, consisting of a preliminary Levene test on samples of different sizes with unequal variances, followed by either a Student pooled-variances t test or a Welch separate-variances t test. Simulations disclosed that the twostage procedure fails to protect the significance level and usually makes the situation worse. Earlier studies have shown that preliminary tests often adversely affect the size of the test, and also that the Welch test is superior to the t test when variances are unequal. The present simulations reveal that changes in Type I error rates are greater when sample sizes are smaller, when the difference in variances is slight rather than extreme, and when the significance level is more stringent. Furthermore, the validity of the Welch test deteriorates if it is used only on those occasions where a preliminary test indicates it is needed. Optimum protection is assured by using a separate-variances test unconditionally whenever sample sizes are unequal.

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Accession: 048094196

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