ecological fallacy

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ecological fallacy


wrong-level fallacy

the error of inferring that relationships established between two or more variables measured at an AGGREGATE level will also hold at the individual level. Care must be taken in research studies which use areas as the unit of analysis to avoid this error. For example, if an area is found to have a high percentage of unemployment and a high percentage of mental illness, any inference of a causal relationship at the individual level would be invalid. The problem is discussed in Robinson (1951) and Riley (1963).
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000
References in periodicals archive ?
Ecological Fallacy #1: There Is a Public Health Workforce Crisis
Inferring individual behavior, such as racial attitudes affecting presidential votes from aggregate data confronts a logical barrier known as the ecological fallacy. A more robust analysis requires evidence collected directly from individuals.
This could be an ecological fallacy and states that have more smokers also have lower costs, but it is puzzling when the regression includes an income variable as well.
Along the same lines, the authors show that the now-hackneyed observation that blue states are richer than red states rests on an ecological fallacy. Microdata and county data reveal a strong, positive correlation between income and voting for Republican candidates.
It seems that there may be ecological fallacy at play here.
To see the ecological fallacy at work, picture fans doing "the wave" at a football stadium.
"But they tend to be the ecological fallacy: `If the forest is great, the trees are great.' In a healthy forest, there are ailing trees."
In particular, Professors Gill and Katz committed what is referred to as the ecological fallacy in making inferences about a particular individual's voting behavior using only information about the average behavior of groups; in this case, voters assigned to a particular precinct.
The ecological fallacy, the drawing of inferences about individuals based on aggregate level data, was discovered over 50 years ago but is still present in a surprising number of commonly employed marketing and advertising research tools.
This supports a direct link and contradicts a possible "ecological fallacy" as the time frame, which has an abrupt beginning and end, is similar for both the dioxin crisis and the decline in number of Campylobacter infections (21).
ecological fallacy: (a) mistakenly attributing an average or modal characteristic across individuals in a group to an individual in a group; (b) mistakenly attributing the combination of characteristics that are most common within a group to any individual who has one of those characteristics.
The author's ready acceptance, however, of the face value of residents' reasons for the opposition may risk committing a twisted form of "ecological fallacy" or of a reversal of independent and dependent variables in complex association analysis.

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