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Education And Debate

Statistic Notes: Regression towards the mean

BMJ 1994; 308 doi: (Published 04 June 1994) Cite this as: BMJ 1994;308:1499
  1. J M Bland,
  2. D G Altman
  1. Department of Public Health Sciences, St George's Hospital Medical School, London SW17 0RE
  2. Medical Statistics Laboratory, Imperial Cancer Research Fund, London WC2A 3PX.

    The statistical term “regression,” from a Latin root meaning “going back,” was first used by Francis Galton in his paper “Regression towards Mediocrity in Hereditary Stature.”1 Galton related the heights of children to the average height of their parents, which he called the mid- parent height (figure). Children and parents had the same mean height of 68.2 inches. The ranges differed, however, because the mid-parent height was an average of two …

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