What Are Independent and Dependent Variables?

Understanding the independent and dependent variables and how to utilize them is crucial since they are both investigated in experiments that follow the scientific method. Here are the explanations for graphing independent and dependent variables and examples of each one.

Independent Variable

The circumstance you alter in an experiment is the independent variable. It is a factor that you can influence. Because its value is independent of and unaffected by the status of any other variable in the experiment, it is known as an independent variable. This variable, which is altered, is often referred to as the “controlled variable.” Contrast that with a “control variable,” which is a variable that is consciously kept constant to have no impact on the experiment’s results.

Dependent Variable

The condition that you assess in an experiment is the dependent variable. You might conceive of it as relying on the independent variable since you are evaluating how it reacts to a change in the independent variable. Sometimes the dependent variable is termed the “responding variable.”

Independent and Dependent Variable Examples

The test score is the dependent variable in research to see whether students’ amount of sleep impacts their test results, and the amount of sleep is the independent variable.

To find out which brand absorbs the most liquid, compare several paper towel brands. The kind of paper towel you used would be the experiment’s independent variable. The quantity of liquid absorbed by the paper towel would be the dependent variable.

The wavelength of light is the independent variable, and whether or not the light is detected (the response) is the dependent variable in an experiment to find out how far individuals can see into the infrared region of the spectrum.

The presence or absence of a certain quantity of caffeine will serve as the independent variable in a study to determine if caffeine impacts hunger. The dependent variable would be how hungry you are.

You plan an experiment to determine if a substance is necessary for a rat diet. The independent variable is whether the chemical is present or not. The rat’s health is the dependent variable (whether it lives and can reproduce). The amount of the chemical required may be determined in a subsequent experiment if it is shown to be essential for healthy nutrition. The number of chemicals, in this case, would be the independent variable, while the health of the rats would be the dependent variable.

How to Tell the Independent and Dependent Variable Apart

Remember that changing the independent variable impacts the dependent variable if you have trouble differentiating between the independent and dependent variables—the independent variable influences the dependent variable when the variables are written out in a cause-and-effect phrase. The variables must be correct for the statement to make sense.

The impact of the independent variable on the dependent variable:

Example: Your test results (dependent variable) are influenced by how much sleep you get (an independent variable).

Example: Your test results (dependent variable) are impacted by your sleep duration (independent variable).

How to Plot Variables on a Graph

The graphing of the independent and dependent variables follow a conventional procedure. The dependent variable is on the y-axis, whereas the independent variable is on the x-axis. To make it easier to remember how to graph variables, use the term DRY MIX:


D = dependent variable
R = responding variable
Y = graph on the vertical or y-axis
M = manipulated variable
I = independent variable
X = graph on the horizontal or x-axis

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