by Kim Love and Karen Grace-Martin
Statistics terminology is confusing.
Sometimes different terms are used to mean the same thing, often in different fields of application. Sometimes the same term is used to mean different things. And sometimes very similar terms are used to describe related but distinct statistical concepts.
Learning statistics is difficult enough; throw in some especially confusing terminology and it can feel impossible! There are many ways that statistical language can be confusing.
Some terms mean one thing in the English language, but have another (usually more specific) meaning in statistics. (more…)
Many times in science we are intrigued to measure an underlying characteristic that cannot be observed or measured directly. This measure is hypothesized to exist to explain variables, such as behavior, that can be observed.
The measurable variables are called manifest variables. The unmeasurable are called latent variables.
Latent variables are often called factors, especially in the context of factor analysis.