ANOVA is an acronym that stands for “analysis of variance.” The ANOVA test is used to determine whether a significant difference exists between the means of three or more groups. This article will look at the types of ANOVA and their uses.

What is ANOVA?

ANOVA, or analysis of variance, is a statistical method used to determine whether there are significant differences between the means of two or more groups. It separates the observed variation found within a data set into components attributable to different sources of variation.

The null hypothesis states that the means of all groups are the same and that any difference between group means observed in the data is due to random chance. The one-way ANOVA compares the mean differences between one independent variable and one dependent variable by examining means across three or more groups.

  • A repeated measures design might be used within-subjects study when;
  • time is an important factor in how much something changes
  • what effect it has on individuals or groups, and
  • how those changes vary based on other factors.

ANOVA helps you compare how different groups are different from each other and allows you to see if any two groups are statistically similar.

Read: Hypothesis Testing: Definition, Uses, Limitations + Examples

Because it can be a complex procedure, it’s not often used in journalism (unless you’re one of those fancy data-driven journalists) but it is frequently used in academic research. For example, let’s say you’re studying how different brands of salad dressing affect the taste of salad (the dependent variable).

You would have your different brands as independent variables maybe Caesar dressing, Italian dressing, Blue Cheese dressing, and Thousand Island dressing. You could poll your participants on their preferred salad flavor before and after trying all four dressings.

The ANOVA method would help you evaluate whether or not there was a statistically significant difference between the four dressings ‘effect on participants’ preferred flavor profiles. Then you might be able to say something like “participants preferred salad flavors were most highly influenced by Blue Cheese dressing.”

Read: Type I vs Type II Errors: Causes, Examples & Prevention

How Does ANOVA Work?

ANOVA is a statistical analysis that tests the differences between the means of two or more treatment groups. When you want to know if there’s a difference between two or more groups, you can run a t-test, but that’s only useful when you have two groups. What do you do when you have more than two? That’s where ANOVA comes in.

ANOVA lets you compare multiple groups at once and see if they differ significantly from each other. It’s like running a bunch of t-tests all at the same time, which is great because it saves time and helps you avoid making errors with multiple comparisons.

The basic logic behind the ANOVA test is quite similar to the t-test. In a nutshell, it compares the variability within each sample against the variability between each sample.

Read: Explanatory Research: Types, Examples, Pros & Cons

For example, let’s say you want to know whether there’s a significant difference in height among your three friends. You take three measurements of each person: once before breakfast, once after breakfast, and once after lunch.

After calculating the mean height for each individual and for each time period (pre-breakfast, post-breakfast, post-lunch), you plug all these values into the ANOVA formula. The ANOVA will then tell you whether there’s a statistically significant difference in height among these three time periods.

How Formplus Can Help Aggregate Data for ANOVA

Formplus makes it easy to aggregate data from multiple sources. You can use the platform to create surveys, forms, and other documents that require data collection and automatically import them into Google Sheets.

Formplus also offers a number of tools that help researchers collect data for ANOVA tests. These tools include fields for Likert scales and multiple-choice questions, which allow you to provide the respondent with a list of options from which they can select their answers.

Use For Free: Simple Data Collection Tool: Online & Offline Data Tool

You can also use Formplus to create forms for surveys, questionnaires, interviews, and other data collection methods. The information provided by your respondents can then be exported as CSV files for further analysis in a statistical software package like SPSS.

Now, the first step in collecting data for an ANOVA test is to create a survey that will collect the relevant information about your population. With Formplus, you can create custom surveys using its form builder but first, you will need to log in to your account.

The form builder is intuitive and easy to use, so you don’t need to be an expert in web design to use it. You can easily add question fields including multiple-choice questions and matrix questions and add logic to your survey so that respondents only see questions that are relevant to them.

Once you’ve created your survey, you can share it with respondents via a QR code, email, or a link. You can also embed your survey right into your website using Formplus’s advanced HTML code generator. 

Read: Research Questions: Definitions, Types + [Examples]

Once you’ve collected responses, you can export them in CSV format or display them as charts and graphs within Formplus’s dashboard.

Types of ANOVA

There are two main types of ANOVA: one-way (or unidirectional) and two-way.

1. Unidirectional or one-way

One-way ANOVA compares the means of three or more independent groups to see if they’re statistically different. In a one-way experiment, the experimenter is interested in studying how a response variable changes according to the levels of one single factor.

For example, in an agricultural field trial, the farmer may be interested in studying how the average yield of corn varies when three different types of fertilizer are used. The three types of fertilizer are levels of a single factor and the corn yield is a response variable. Here, the interest is in comparing the mean values of only one single factor.

In another example, you want to test the effect of adding four different levels of magnesium (mg) into a plant’s water on the growth of that plant. You grow 50 plants, each with a different level of mg (0, 5, 10, 15), and measure their height every week for one month. Then you would use one-way ANOVA to determine if there was a statistically significant difference in the mean heights of plants watered with the different amounts of mg.

2. Two-way ANOVA

Two-way ANOVA determines the effect of two factors, such as product and gender, on a dependent variable like sales revenue. In a two-way experiment, the experimenter studies how two factors affect a response variable. For example, the farmer may be interested not only in seeing how different fertilizers affect corn yields but also in studying whether or not yields vary when corn is planted at different times during the year. In this example, fertilizer type and time of planting each contribute to variation in corn yield and we call them factors.

Read: Extrapolation in Statistical Research: Definition, Examples, Types, Applications

When Might You Use ANOVA?

  1. You might use ANOVA to compare three different treatments against each other, to compare two different diets against each other, or compare two different exercise programs against each other. For example, let’s say you want to know if there’s a difference between the average heights of four different types of trees in a forest. Instead of calculating whether each pair is statistically different from one another, you could run one ANOVA test to find out whether any of them are significantly different from one another.
  2. ANOVA is also used as a method of testing how well different groups of data fit together. Let’s say you have a group of dogs, and you want to know whether they are all the same size or if some dogs are bigger than others. You can use ANOVA to test whether the groups differ from each other. You can also use ANOVA to compare more than two groups at once. You could test whether German Shepherds are the same size as Poodles, teacup Poodles, teacup Chihuahuas, and regular-sized Chihuahuas. This way, you could see if all of these dog breeds are the same size, or if one breed is larger than another breed.
  3. You can use ANOVA to test for statistical differences between two or more groups to see if there is a significant difference between the means of those groups. ANOVA determines whether a test is valid by looking at the variation between and within groups.
  4. If a test shows a large standard deviation between groups, then the differences are likely due to random chance; however, if the standard deviation within groups is large, then it may be due to real differences between groups.

An important thing to know about ANOVA tests is that they assume all groups are sampled from populations with equal variances. If the variances between groups are not equal, you’ll need to use Welch’s ANOVA instead.

Examples of Using ANOVA

Let’s say you want to compare the heights of men and women. Here’s how you might do that with ANOVA:

  • Gather your data
  • Calculate the mean (average) height of all people in the sample
  • Calculate the mean height for men and women separately
  • Find out how much these numbers differ from the overall mean and square them. This will tell you how much each group differs from the overall sample. Squaring makes sure that we’re only dealing with positive values since it’s not meaningful for you to talk about “negative differences.”
  • Add up all of these squared difference values. This is called your SST, or “sum of squares total.” It tells you how much variation there is in your whole sample.
  • Find out how much each group contributes to your overall SST by dividing the squared difference value we calculated in step 4 by the number of people in each group (this will be two values, one for men and one for women). 

Understanding ANOVA Assumptions

To run an ANOVA, you need to make sure your data meet certain assumptions:

  1. Your dependent variable should be measured at the continuous level (remember: ordinal, interval, and ratio data are all continuous).
  2. Your independent variable should consist of two or more categorical, independent groups.
  3. Samples should be random, independent, and come from a normal population.
  4. Variances between groups should be equal. This assumption is tested using Levene’s test.

These assumptions are fairly strict and somewhat limiting—and if you find yourself not able to meet them, you may need to look into other statistical techniques.

What are the Limitations of ANOVA?

The limitations of ANOVA include:

  1. It is inflexible in terms of the number of groups you can have, and there are other tests that are more powerful.
  2. ANOVA can only be used when the dependent variable is continuous. If you want to compare three or more means on a categorical dependent variable, you may need to use a chi-square test instead.
  3. You are limited to one dependent variable. You cannot use ANOVA if you have multiple dependent variables that you want to analyze simultaneously.


ANOVA is a great tool to use when you want to compare a continuous variable across 3 or more independent groups. Keep in mind that if your data fails the ANOVA assumption of homogeneity of variance, it can lead to some inaccurate results.

  • busayo.longe
  • on 9 min read


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