Difference Between Independent and Dependent Variables

Difference Between Independent and Dependent Variables

Have you ever wondered: what’s the difference between independent and dependent variables? Indeed, this question comes up every now and then because it is a typical recurring topic. It is very crucial in mathematics and other sciences. Apart from these two areas, both expressions have an application in real life. If you are a mathematician, we expect that you already know the answer to this question.

However, there are many people who still try to figure out what is the difference between independent and dependent variables. If you are reading this article while you are in this category, just keep in mind that you are not alone in this case. The good news is that after reading this article, you will find the answer to the question mind-boggling.

Given that a good number of people face this challenge, we did an extensive research into the subject. Here is a well-detailed guide that will help you get the answer that you seek. Well, just before going any further, it is critical that you know what a variable is.

The fact is, there is rarely any field where the term is not applied, because it is something we face in everyday life. In mathematics, for instance, it is a number that is not fixed. For instance, if X is a variable, it depicts that the magnitude of X keeps changing from time to time depending on the prevailing circumstances.

For example, find X in the equations below:    

i. 2X – 9 = 19             ii. 5 – 3X = 20

i. We will work out X in the first:

2X – 9 = 19

     2X = 19 + 9

       X = 28/2 = 14.

ii. Working out the second:

5 – 3X = 20

     -3X = 20 – 5

      -X = 15/3 {Multiple both sides by – to cancel out the minus sign (-)}

       X = -5

Notice that in the algebras, the sizes of X are not the same. While the value of X in the first (i) equation is 14, it is -5 in the second (ii) equation. Well, this simply entails that X is a variable, because its size is not constant.

Now, we can say that we have started this article very well, because we have given a contextual explanation. So, let’s get down to business.

Definition of Independent Variable

An independent variable is defined as a quantity that is stable and unaffected by other measurables. Just like in the case above, these elements are used in investigative processes to bring about conditions that can be systematically manipulated by the observer. And, no, it is not a constant!

Another way to put this is that it can only change if the observer changes it. If not, it remains the same throughout the investigational process. It is applicable in the fields of social sciences, statistical modeling, analysis, mathematics, medicine, and other related fields.

The relationship between these two, dependent variables vs independent, is determined to a great extent by the impact of the latter on the former. There are quite a number of them, but two of the most common examples include age and time.

An observer might examine people based on their age. For instance, what type of music do toddlers like? Her results would be peculiar to toddlers, likely with a pattern of similarity. But if she were to carry out the same experiment on teenagers, the result would be different.

Definition of Dependent Variable

A dependent variable is defined as an element that relies on external influences that are measurable. Naturally, such quantities are expected to change from time to time. However, in this case, such changes can “only” be influenced by the factors they depend on.

Considering independent vs dependent variables, note that the only factors that can influence a change on the latter are classified as the former. Understanding this is crucial.

From the perspective of social science, this quantity can also be defined as investigational. Tests can be conducted on the quantities, and consistent factors are used to influence changes on them. In terms of statistics, it is said to be the type of inconstant that measures the effects of self-reliant elements on test units.

Here are some examples.

  • Body weight, which relies on how much a person consumes in terms of quality and quantity
  • Eating pattern, which can be influenced by biological factors like a change in brain chemicals
  • Illnesses and diseases, which can be caused by bacteria, fungi, parasites, and viruses
  • Use of tobacco products, which relies on nicotine consumption
  • Anxiety disorders, which can be influenced by stress of any form

Independent vs Dependent Variable Comparison Table

As stated earlier, the table below gives more explanation about the distinction.

ParameterIndependent Dependent
Meaning An item that doesn’t change A quantity that relies on others
Frequency of change This quantity rarely changes This keeps changing from time to time depending on a number of other things considered
Examples Income, and Time Price of groceries, and transportation fares
Predictability Very certain Very uncertain
Influence It can be altered by the researcher This cannot be easily influenced, as the size is determined by the outcome of the other(s)

Conclusion of the Main Difference Between Independent vs Dependent Variable

We firmly believe that the table above illustrates the disparity between the two phrases. This article satisfactorily answers the question: What is the difference between independent and dependent variable? So far, the distinction has been thoroughly discussed in this article. With that being said, you can say that the two need each other, regardless of where and how they are applied.

Obviously, they are applied in Mathematics, Economics, Business, Sciences and a host of other fields. But then, it doesn’t really matter where you find them, as they have the same principle guiding them wherever they are found. In other words, since this one is given, it is capable of influencing the other that is not given or to be worked out (experimented). The unknown will then be found or solved. In short, that’s the general principle.

So, what is the difference between independent and dependent variable? Well, at this stage, this topic has been satisfactorily exhausted. When you hear someone ask the question above, you should go on to give him/her a lecture, as we have done in this article. Without mince words, we strongly believe that in all areas where you come across the terms, you should be able to identify the distinction, as we have given you the general precepts that guide them.