Difference between Mean and Average

Updated on September 16, 2017

Many people say that the words “mean” and “average” are interchangeable. Is this true? In this article, we will discuss what mean and average mean and if they are indeed one and the same.

Descriptions

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The word mean or “arithmetic mean” is the total of a set of data divided by the number of values in the set. Let’s take a look at this example below:

Given numbers: 18, 16, 15, 18, 10, and 25

To get the mean, get the sum of the numbers in the set first: 18 + 16 + 15 + 18 + 10 + 25 = 102

Then, divide the sum by the number of values in the set to get the mean: 102 ÷ 6 = 17

The mean is the easiest to understand and most extensively used measure of central tendency in the fields of statistics, economics, history, and sociology.

The word average can refer to any of the three main methods to measure central tendency (mean, median, and mode). However, in most cases, average refers to the “arithmetic mean” or “mean.”

Mean vs Average

What, then, is the difference between mean and average?

The only difference between the two is that an average can refer to any of the three main methods to measure of central tendency (mean, median, and mode). However, in most cases, mean and average are synonymous.

Comparison Chart

MeanAverage
The sum of a set of data divided by the number of values in the setSynonymous to mean; may also refer to any of the three main methods to measure central tendency (mean, median, and mode)
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