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Data analysis: hypothesis testing
Data analysis: hypothesis testing

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4.1 The normal distribution

Here, you will look at the concept of normal distribution and the bell-shaped curve. The peak point (the top of the bell) represents the most probable occurrences, while other possible occurrences are distributed symmetrically around the peak point, creating a downward-sloping curve on either side of the peak point.

Cartoon showing a bell-shaped curve.
Figure 5 The peak point is average

In order to test hypotheses, you need to calculate the test statistic and compare it with the value in the bell curve. This will be done by using the concept of ‘normal distribution’.

A normal distribution is a probability distribution that is symmetric about the mean, indicating that data near the mean are more likely to occur than data far from it. In graph form, a normal distribution appears as a bell curve. The values in the x-axis of the normal distribution graph represent the z-scores. The test statistic that you wish to use to test the set of hypotheses is the z-score. A z-score is used to measure how far the observation (sample mean) is from the 0 value of the bell curve (population mean). In statistics, this distance is measured by standard deviation. Therefore, when the z-score is equal to 2, the observation is 2 standard deviations away from the value 0 in the normal distribution curve.

A symmetrical graph reminiscent of a bell showing normal distribution.
Figure 6 Normal distribution – bell curve