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Categorical variables are sets of variables with values assigned to distinct and limited groups or categories. Categorical variables take on values in a set of categories, different from a continuous variable, which takes on a range of values. Categorical variables are also called discrete or nominal variables.

Categorical variables are common in social and behavioral sciences. Groups or categories often consist of numeric (e.g., female = 1, male = 0) or alphabetic (e.g., female, male) labels, and generally provide information that is not quantitative by nature. In their simplest form, categorical variables can be binary variables with only two options (e.g., “yes” or “no”). In more complex forms, categorical variables can represent a variety of options belonging to the same group or category, such as ...

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