Data types can be compared in terms of the amount of information they carry.
- Nominal data carries the least amount of information because it only represents categories or names without any order or numerical value. For example, if we are collecting data on the types of fruit people like, we can assign the categories “apple”, “banana”, and “orange”. However, the order in which people like these fruits does not matter – we only care about the category they belong to.
- Ordinal data carries more information than nominal data because it represents categories with an order or ranking. For example, if we are collecting data on people’s favorite colors, we can assign the categories “red”, “blue”, and “green”. However, the order in which people like these colors does matter – we can say that someone’s favorite color is first, second, or third in the ranking.
- Interval data carries even more information because it represents categories with a specific difference or interval between them, but with no true zero point. For example, if we are collecting data on temperatures, we can assign the categories “20-30°F”, “30-40°F”, and “40-50°F”. However, the zero point in this case (0°F) is arbitrary, so we cannot make meaningful comparisons using this data type.
- Ratio data carries the most amount of information because it represents categories with a specific difference and a true zero point. This allows us to make meaningful comparisons between values. For example, if we are collecting data on the weight of objects, we can assign the categories “0-10 pounds”, “10-20 pounds”, and “20-30 pounds”. We can make meaningful comparisons between these values because there is a true zero point (0 pounds) and we can compare values as a multiple (e.g. 20 pounds is twice as heavy as 10 pounds).
In summary, the amount of information that data types carry can vary. Nominal data carries the least amount of information, followed by ordinal, interval, and ratio data. Knowing the type of data you are working with can help you choose appropriate methods for analyzing and interpreting your data.