ISSN 2043-8087
Journal of Experimental Psychopathology
 Volume 2, Issue 2, 197-209, 2011
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Best Practices for Using Median Splits, Artificial Categorization, and their Continuous Alternatives

Jamie DeCoster (a), Marcello Gallucci (b), Anne-Marie R. Iselin (c)
(a) Institute for Social Science Research, University of Alabama
(b) The University of Milano-Bicocca
(c) Duke University

Volume 2, Issue 2, 2011, Pages 197-209

Methodologists have long discussed the costs and benefits of using medians or other cut points to artificially turn continuous variables into categorical variables. The current paper attempts to provide a perspective on this literature that will be of practical use to experimental psychopathologists. After discussing the reasons that clinical researchers might use artificial categorization, we summarize the arguments both for and against this procedure. We then provide a number of specific suggestions related to the use of artificial categorization, including our thoughts on when researchers should use artificial categories, how their use can be justified, what continuous alternatives are available, and how the continuous alternatives should be used.

Table of Contents
Why Do People Use Artificial Categorization?
How Do People Use Artificial Categorization?
What Are the Problems with Artificial Categorization?
Are There Valid Justifications for Using Artificial Categorization?
How Should Artificial Categorization and Their Continuous Alternatives Be Used?

Correspondence to
Jamie DeCoster, Institute for Social Science Research, University of Alabama, 306 Bryant Drive, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0216, USA

median splits, dichotomization, artificial categorization, continuous measures, dimensional measures, threshold, cut points

Received 31 May 2010; Revised 24 Sep 2010; Accepted 29 Sep 2010; In Press 5 May 2011

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