Hasan Yahya, Ph.Ds- Professor of sociology.
An independent variable is an abstract concept may be varied or manipulated in a research experiment, for example, age, income, time, tempriture, wealth, race, and sex (gender) are independent variables. These variables may be considered causes of certain phenomenon (dependent variables) such as happiness, stress, child abuse or crime. In terms of cause-effect, the independent variable is the cause, while the dependent variable is the effect.
Furthermore independent variables may be treated in two ways statistically. For example, Qualitative or Quantitative. The first can be ordered as first second and third, or More or less quality (like high, medium and low income). The second, however is the opposite which is different by using scales, or measures, such as time, weight and tempreture.
Both dependent and independent variables are basics in any research methodology in terms of cause-effect, or any other relationships (Plus and Minus, or positive or negative relationships).
Making an hypotheses, the independent variable always the cause, for example, the older age people (independent variable) is the cause of more or less happiness or satisfaction (the dependent variable). Another hypothetical relations weusually say: the lower the income (independent variable) the higher child abuse (the Dependent variable.
In a concret and practical example to understand the independent variable, remember that an infant (dependant var.) on his mother (independent var.) In other words, both are abstract concepts. Because mother and infant are used to mean one thing in all times and places. Like parents, justics, anger, crime, etc.,
Translated from the author’s book: “Ilm al-‘Ijtima’ Tatbeeqi: Applied sociology (Arabic version), 2008. ISBN-13: 978-1440435959