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8.4: Test for Differences in Means- Assuming Equal Population Variances

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  • Typically we can never expect to know any of the population parameters, mean, proportion, or standard deviation. When testing hypotheses concerning differences in means we are faced with the difficulty of two unknown variances that play a critical role in the test statistic. We have been substituting the sample variances just as we did when testing hypotheses for a single mean. And as we did before, we used a Student's t to compensate for this lack of information on the population variance. There may be situations, however, when we do not know the population variances, but we can assume that the two populations have the same variance. If this is true then the pooled sample variance will be smaller than the individual sample variances. This will give more precise estimates and reduce the probability of discarding a good null. The null and alternative hypotheses remain the same, but the test statistic changes to:

    \[t_{c}=\frac{\left(\overline{x}_{1}-\overline{x}_{2}\right)-\delta_{0}}{\sqrt{S^{2} p\left(\frac{1}{n_{1}}+\frac{1}{n_{2}}\right)}}\nonumber\]

    where \(S_{p}^{2}\) is the pooled variance given by the formula:

    \[S_{p}^{2}=\frac{\left(n_{1}-1\right) s_{2}^{1}+\left(n_{2}-1\right) s_{2}^{2}}{n_{1}+n_{2}-2}\nonumber\]

    The test statistic is clearly in the tail, 2.31 is larger than the critical value of 1.703, and therefore we cannot maintain the null hypothesis. Thus, we conclude that there is significant evidence at the 95% level of confidence that the new medicine produces the effect desired.