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independent variable[‚in·də′pen·dənt ′ver·ē·ə·bəl]
In an equation y = ƒ(x), the input variable x. Also known as argument.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
independent variablethe VARIABLE which is experimentally manipulated, or otherwise controlled, in order to observe its effect. For example, the speed limit may be systematically varied on certain roads and the effect of this measured in terms of road accident statistics. The speed restrictions would be the independent variable, the road accident figures the DEPENDENT VARIABLE. However, in social research it is often not possible to set up experiments to test theories, and observations have to be made from retrospective occurrences. Thus a study may be made, for example, of the effect of age of marriage on family size. In this example, age of marriage would be the independent variable, and family size would be the dependent variable. see also EXPERIMENTAL METHOD.
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000