Ordinal Variable

What is an Ordinal Variable?

Ordinal variables are those variables which have discrete values but has some order involved. The variables do not have to necessarily directly correlate to a specific value, but is often used as a qualitative way of understanding data. 

How does an Ordinal Variable work?


Imagine, for example, a patient is at the doctor because they have a sprained ankle. The doctor may come in an ask "On a scale from 1 to 10, how would you rate your pain?" This is an example of an ordinal variable. Naturally, pain is not usually measured internally on a discrete basis, however the answer to the question is informative nonetheless. If the patient indicates a 7, the doctor would be able to infer that they are in more pain than if they reported a 4 out of 10. Ordinal variables, while not necessarily directly correlated to the associated data they represent, are nevertheless informative due to the order of the values.