Central tendency is a way of viewing and organizing a set of data, seeking the middle or most representative value. It can take several forms, including the mean average, median (middle) value or mode (which represents the most common value in the set). Many jobs and tasks require some use of central tendency, with specialists in diverse fields using central tendency on a regular basis.
Statisticians rely heavily on measurements of central tendency as they examine data and produce visualizations that help others understand complex number systems. For example, a statistician who works in pure mathematics produces algorithms to predict results of a trial based on the central tendencies that past data sets exhibit. In another case, sports statisticians use central tendency to produce advanced metric stats that talent scouts, managers and fans use to analyze and enjoy a game.
Psychologists use central tendency to understand the typical scores for psychological tests and evaluation tools. The principles of clinical psychology rely on averages and norms based on long-term studies and trends that practicing psychologists and researchers have documented and published. Psychologists administer tests to their clients and compare the results to central tendency measures to determine whether the subject conforms to a psychological diagnosis. This information is useful for suggesting treatment and producing new publications that teach others about results and supply new data for future central tendency measurements.
A management analyst is a business professional who uses central tendency to analyze the internal workings of a company. These analysts examine typical data and averages in a number of business-related areas, including payroll, expenditures, revenue, profit margins and sales numbers. Management analysts compare this central tendency data to information from other businesses and economic markets, producing new strategic proposals for business leaders to consider or adopt in the pursuit of growth. For example, a management analyst may examine a business's expenditures and determine that rising payroll costs are due to a rising median salary, with more high-wage levels available to employees. This information could lead a business to alter its pay structure to achieve a better balance of compensation and payroll savings.
Central tendency is an essential part of most data-driven research, including medical research. Researchers compare the results of lab trials, determining central tendencies to set benchmarks for success and gauging the effectiveness of alternative techniques. For example, a medical researcher may observe the central tendency of a vaccine's success rate as 85 percent. If another vaccine that prevents the same illness has a 99 percent success rate in limited trials, researchers will know that the new method has the potential to improve prevention of a given illness.