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Ecological Fallacy

  • By: Trevor M. Harris
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

The ecological fallacy arises when inferences are made about the characteristics of individuals in a population based on analyses using aggregate statistics of those same individuals. The general usage of the term applies to inferences made about individuals that are based solely on the group characteristics of that population. Such would be the case with stereotyping or geographical profiling, where individuals are characterized by the general traits of the area in which they live. In a more specific manner, the ecological fallacy occurs when an ecological correlation between variables based on statistical constants such as group rates or means is assumed to characterize individual members of that population. William Robinson first demonstrated that statistical correlations of variables aggregated by group or geographic area can differ ...

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