Pub. date: 2011 | Online Pub. Date: October 04, 2011 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412994163 | Print ISBN: 9781412959636 | Online ISBN: 9781412994163| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
The term variable is used in a variety of senses in social science methodology, with the various usages unified by reference to a score on an indicator that in some sense could have been different. Variables, in the broadest sense, are indicators that are not constants; contrasting usages of both terms are briefly considered below. Social scientists and other methodologists often make more fine-grained distinctions among variables in terms of their statistical or causal characteristics. In this entry, these distinctions and their applications are discussed. Some indicators capture traits that are ontologically variable: If a study were to be in some sense repeated, the score on this indicator for a given case could have been other than what it was. An intuitive example of a variable in this sense is the result of rolling a die. If the die were to be rolled again, there is no particular reason to ...