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Cross Tabulation: Definition & Examples

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  • 0:02 Cross Tabulation
  • 1:42 Examples
  • 3:51 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Yolanda Williams

Yolanda has taught college Psychology and Ethics, and has a doctorate of philosophy in counselor education and supervision.

Cross tabulation is a tool that allows you compare the relationship between two variables. Learn more about cross tabulation from examples and test your knowledge with a quiz.

Definition of Cross Tabulation

Suppose that you are hired by the local school board to conduct a survey on attitudes toward sex education. The district is planning to modify its current sex education curriculum, but it needs additional data to help determine what to include in the curriculum. Some of the school board members think that sex education should focus solely on abstinence, while others believe that sex education should be more comprehensive. You create a 3-item survey. The items are:

  1. Do you think that high school students should be provided with abstinence-only sex education?
  2. Do you think that high schools should provide more comprehensive sex education that includes a discussion of birth control methods and how to practice safe sex?
  3. Do you think that receiving sex education in high school is important?

You decide to give your survey to 250 students, 250 parents and all of the 100 teachers in the school district. The following is a summary of your findings:

Survey results

You decide to compare the responses of the students, parents and teachers to each other on each of the three items. The best way for you to conduct the comparisons is to use cross tabulation.

So, what is cross tabulation? Cross tabulation is a statistical tool that is used to analyze categorical data. Categorical data is data or variables that are separated into different categories that are mutually exclusive from one another. An example of categorical data is eye color. Your eye color can be divided into 'categories' (i.e., blue, brown, green), and it is impossible for eye color to belong to more than one category (i.e., color).

Examples of Cross Tabulation

Cross tabulation helps you understand how two different variables are related to each other. For example, suppose you wanted to see if there is a relationship between the gender of the survey responder and if sex education in high school is important.

Using the survey data, you can count the number of males and females who said that sex education is important, and the number of males and females who said that sex education is not important. You then take this information and create a contingency table, which displays the frequency of each of the variables. Suppose that there are 300 females and 300 males who completed the survey. Here is what our cross tabulation looks like:

Cross tabulation data

Is there a relationship between gender and if sex education in high school is important? If you look at the table, you can see that almost all of the males believe that sex education in high school is important. Although the majority of females believe that sex education is important, the difference is not as big as between the males. From this analysis, we can conclude that males are more likely than females to believe that sex education in high school is important.

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