Understanding Skewness in Data Distribution

Skewness is a statistical measure that describes the asymmetry of a data distribution. In a perfectly symmetrical distribution, the left and right sides of the distribution are mirror images of each other. However, real-world data often deviates from this perfect symmetry, and skewness helps to quantify the extent and direction of this asymmetry.

Types of Skewness

There are two types of skewness:

  • Positive Skewness (Right-Skewed): When a distribution has a long tail on the right side, it is considered positively skewed. In this case, the mean and median will be greater than the mode, indicating that there is a cluster of lower values with fewer high values stretching the tail to the right.
  • Negative Skewness (Left-Skewed): Conversely, when a distribution has a long tail on the left side, it is negatively skewed. The mean and median will be less than the mode, suggesting a concentration of higher values with fewer low values extending the tail to the left.

Measuring Skewness

Skewness is typically measured using Pearson's moment coefficient of skewness. This coefficient is calculated by taking the third standardized moment of the distribution. The formula for skewness (γ) is given by:

γ = E[(X - μ)^3] / σ^3


  • E is the expectation operator.
  • X

    is a random variable representing the data points.

  • μ is the mean of the distribution.
  • σ

    is the standard deviation of the distribution.

If the skewness is close to 0, the data is fairly symmetrical. A skewness value greater than 0 indicates positive skewness, while a value less than 0 indicates negative skewness.

Implications of Skewness

Skewness has important implications in statistical analysis, particularly in the areas of hypothesis testing, confidence interval construction, and regression analysis. Many statistical methods assume normality of the data, and skewness can violate this assumption, leading to inaccurate results.

For example, in hypothesis testing, significant skewness may affect the type I and type II error rates. In regression analysis, skewed independent variables can affect the estimation of regression coefficients and the overall fit of the model.

Transformations to Address Skewness

When dealing with skewed data, statisticians often apply transformations to make the data more symmetrical. Common transformations include:

  • Logarithmic Transformation: Useful for right-skewed data.
  • Square Root Transformation: Can be applied to both right and left-skewed data, but more effective for right-skewed.
  • Cube Root Transformation: Can handle both types of skewness.
  • Box-Cox Transformation: A more generalized approach that includes logarithmic and power transformations.

These transformations can help stabilize variance, make the data more normal, and improve the validity of statistical inference.


Skewness is a key concept in descriptive statistics that provides insight into the shape of a data distribution. Understanding skewness is essential for correctly interpreting data and applying the appropriate statistical techniques. By recognizing and addressing skewness, statisticians and data scientists can ensure more accurate and reliable analysis.

Please sign up or login with your details

Forgot password? Click here to reset