Arithmetic Average: When to Use It and When Not

Arithmetic Average Has Strengths and Weaknesses

Arithmetic average is the most popular measure of central tendency and (the reason for its popularity is that) it is the easiest one to calculate. However, like every other statistical measure, arithmetic average has strengths and weaknesses and it is more suitable in some situations than in others. The following is a summary of situations when using arithmetic average is appropriate and those when arithmetic average should be replaced or complemented by other measures.

When to Use Arithmetic Average

When Not to Use Arithmetic Average (Alone)

Getting a More Complete Picture

In many cases it helps to use arithmetic average together with other measures, such as median or standard deviation. You can easily calculate these and other statistics in Excel using the Descriptive Statistics Calculator.


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