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Independent/Dependent Variables

Independent/Dependent Variables

Author: Nathan Lampson

When testing a hypothesis, scientists use controlled experiments, modifying one aspect of an experiment to test the hypothesis. In this tutorial, you will learn about dependent and independent variables in an experiment and explore how some variables are manipulated by the experiment.  Experiments reveal that some variables react to certain factors and others do not, which is an important aspect of critical thinking.  By analyzing experiments, you will be able to identify the independent and dependent variables in a scientific study.

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When testing a hypothesis, scientists use controlled experiments. Scientists modify one aspect of an experiment in order to test hypotheses.


The independent variable is the variable that is manipulated by the experimenter.


The dependent variable is the variable in an experiment that responds to the presence or absence of the independent variable.



If a scientist wants to test whether or not the presence of a heat lamp will cause a turtle to grow faster, the independent variable of the experiment is the presence or absence of the heat lamp.  The dependent variable in the experiment is the amount the turtle grows.

Independent/Dependent Variables