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Statistics LibreTexts

10.0: Prelude to Hypothesis Testing with Two Samples

Skills to Develop

By the end of this chapter, the student should be able to:

  • Classify hypothesis tests by type.
  • Conduct and interpret hypothesis tests for two population means, population standard deviations known.
  • Conduct and interpret hypothesis tests for two population means, population standard deviations unknown.
  • Conduct and interpret hypothesis tests for two population proportions.
  • Conduct and interpret hypothesis tests for matched or paired samples.

Studies often compare two groups. For example, researchers are interested in the effect aspirin has in preventing heart attacks. Over the last few years, newspapers and magazines have reported various aspirin studies involving two groups. Typically, one group is given aspirin and the other group is given a placebo. Then, the heart attack rate is studied over several years.

There are other situations that deal with the comparison of two groups. For example, studies compare various diet and exercise programs. Politicians compare the proportion of individuals from different income brackets who might vote for them. Students are interested in whether SAT or GRE preparatory courses really help raise their scores.

Figure 10.1.1. If you want to test a claim that involves two groups (the types of breakfasts eaten east and west of the Mississippi River) you can use a slightly different technique when conducting a hypothesis test. (credit: Chloe Lim)

You have learned to conduct hypothesis tests on single means and single proportions. You will expand upon that in this chapter. You will compare two means or two proportions to each other. The general procedure is still the same, just expanded.

To compare two means or two proportions, you work with two groups. The groups are classified either as independent or matched pairs. Independent groups consist of two samples that are independent, that is, sample values selected from one population are not related in any way to sample values selected from the other population. Matched pairs consist of two samples that are dependent. The parameter tested using matched pairs is the population mean. The parameters tested using independent groups are either population means or population proportions.

This chapter relies on either a calculator or a computer to calculate the degrees of freedom, the test statistics, and p-values. TI-83+ and TI-84 instructions are included as well as the test statistic formulas. When using a TI-83+ or TI-84 calculator, we do not need to separate two population means, independent groups, or population variances unknown into large and small sample sizes. However, most statistical computer software has the ability to differentiate these tests.

This chapter deals with the following hypothesis tests:

Independent groups (samples are independent)

  • Test of two population means.
  • Test of two population proportions.

Matched or paired samples (samples are dependent)

  • Test of the two population proportions by testing one population mean of differences.


  • Barbara Illowsky and Susan Dean (De Anza College) with many other contributing authors. Content produced by OpenStax College is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0 license. Download for free at