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Mann Whitney U Test with Rstudio

A statistical technique used to assess if there is a significant difference in the distributions of two independent groups is the Mann-Whitney U test,


A statistical technique used to assess if there is a significant difference in the distributions of two independent groups is the Mann-Whitney U test, commonly referred to as the Mann-Whitney-Wilcoxon test. Unlike parametric tests, the Mann-Whitney U test is appropriate for non-normal data since it does not require that the data follow a particular distribution. The aim, examples, when to use and when not to use, function, prerequisites, findings, a method for calculating the U value, and reporting of the Mann-Whitney U test using RStudio are all covered in this article. Now let's get into the specifics.


The Mann-Whitney U test determines whether there is a statistically significant difference between two independent groups. It is often used when the data is in ordinal or interval scale or when the conditions of normality and equal variances still need to be satisfied. This test allows us to identify whether the observed difference between the groups results from statistically significant differences or just random fluctuation.


Let's think about a handful of real-world scenarios to comprehend the Mann-Whitney U test better:

Example 1: Test results

Consider comparing the test results of Group A and Group B, two sets of students. Group B got an experimental teaching approach, whereas Group A received regular instruction. We can evaluate whether there is a substantial difference in exam results between the two groups using the Mann-Whitney U test.

Customer satisfaction, as an example

Imagine that we wish to assess the performance of a brand-new customer service training course. Group X, who got the training, and Group Y, who did not, are surveyed on their satisfaction levels. We can establish if there is a substantial difference in customer satisfaction between the two groups using the Mann-Whitney U test.

When to Use

The following situations call for the use of the Mann-Whitney U test:

  • The scale of the data is ordinal, interval, or ratio.
  • The information deviates from a normal distribution.
  • The two groups being compared do not have equal variances.
  • The two groups' observations are separate from one another.

When these criteria are satisfied, the Mann-Whitney U test offers a reliable and trustworthy way to compare the two groups.

When Not to Use

Although the Mann-Whitney U test is flexible, there are several circumstances when it is inappropriate:

  • Nominal or category variables make up the data.
  • The distribution of the data is expected.
  • The two groups' variances are equal.
  • The observations made by the various organizations are not impartial.

Alternative statistical tests, such as t-test or chi-square test, should be considered to ensure correct analysis.


The null hypothesis that there is no difference in the distributions of the two groups is tested using the Mann-Whitney U test. The opposing theory implies a big difference. The test determines the p-value using a U statistic that represents the rank-sum of one group compared to the other. The likelihood of getting the observed data if the null hypothesis is correct is shown by the p-value.


You need the following to run the Mann-Whitney U test in RStudio:

  • You have RStudio set up on your machine.
  • Installed is the statistical programming language R.
  • The Mann-Whitney U test may be performed with the help of the "coin" package in RStudio.


The Mann-Whitney U test will provide several findings, including:

  • Using statistics The rank-sum of one group in relation to the other is represented by the U statistic.
  • P-value: The p-value is the likelihood that the observed difference between groups would exist if the null hypothesis were true.
  • Depending on the p-value, you will either succeed in rejecting the null hypothesis or fail to do so. The presence of a significant difference is shown by a low p-value (usually less than 0.05).

How to Calculate

Use RStudio to do the Mann-Whitney U test calculation:

  • Use the command library(coin) to load the "coin" package in RStudio.
  • Create two vectors or columns from your data to represent the two groups you wish to compare.
  • To run the Mann Whitney U test, use the wilcox_test() function from the "coin" package, supplying your data as inputs.
  • Access the U statistic, p-value, and other pertinent data by storing the test results in a variable.

U Value

The Mann-Whitney U test relies heavily on the U value. It displays the rank-sum of one group in comparison to another. If the U value is lower, it is assumed that the first group typically has lower values than the second group, and if the U value is more significant, it is assumed that the converse is true. The p-value is calculated using the U value, which significantly impacts how the test turns out.


It is crucial to provide the following details when reporting the Mann-Whitney U test results:

  • A detailed explanation of the two groups under comparison.
  • P-value, U statistic value.
  • Final thoughts on the null hypothesis.
  • Any more pertinent details or findings.


The Mann-Whitney U test is a valuable statistical tool for comparing two independent groups when the data does not meet the assumptions of normality and equal variances. It allows researchers to assess whether there is a significant difference between the distributions of the two groups. You can confidently apply the Mann-Whitney U test in your data analysis by understanding its purpose, examples, usage, and reporting guidelines. Remember to carefully interpret the results and consider any limitations or additional factors that may impact your conclusions.


Q1: Can the Mann-Whitney U test be used for small sample sizes?

A1: The Mann-Whitney U test is suitable for small sample sizes. It is a robust test that does not rely on specific distributional assumptions.

Q2: Is the Mann-Whitney U test the same as the Wilcoxon rank-sum test?

A2: Yes, the Mann-Whitney U test is equivalent to the Wilcoxon rank-sum test. They refer to the same non-parametric statistical test for comparing two independent groups.

Q3: Can the Mann-Whitney U test handle missing data?

A3: No, the Mann-Whitney U test assumes complete data for both groups being compared. If you have missing data, addressing it before conducting the test is necessary.

Q4: What is the difference between a one-tailed and two-tailed Mann Whitney U test?

A4: In a one-tailed Mann Whitney U test, the alternative hypothesis is directional, suggesting a significant difference in a specific direction. In a two-tailed test, the alternative hypothesis is non-directional, allowing for a significant difference in either direction.

Q5: Is it possible to perform a Mann Whitney U test in other statistical software apart from RStudio?

A5: Yes, the Mann-Whitney U test can be conducted in various statistical software packages, including SPSS, SAS, and Python.

Q6: Can the Mann Whitney U test handle unequal sample sizes?

A6: The Mann-Whitney U test can accommodate unequal sample sizes in the two groups being compared. It does not require equal group sizes to produce valid results.

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Ph.D. Scholar | Certified Data Analyst | Blogger | Completed 5000+ data projects | Passionate about unravelling insights through data.

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