The Perils of Averaging Data in Adapted Physical Activity Research

in Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly
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  • 1 University of Alberta
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This paper is a criticism of typical group research designs in which the data are analyzed by using standard analysis of variance structural models. A distinction is made between lawful relationships about averages and lawful relationships about people. It is argued that propositions about people cannot necessarily be derived from propositions about the mean of people because the patterns found by aggregating data across people do not necessarily apply to individuals. To find lawful universal relationships about people, data analysis strategies should recognize the person as a basic unit of analysis. Implications of this view for research conducted in adapted physical activity are outlined.

Marcel Bouffard is with the Department of Physical Education and Sport Studies, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada T6G 2H9.

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