We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is an Independent Variable?

By Ken Black
Updated May 21, 2024
Our promise to you
All The Science is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At All The Science, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

An independent variable has a variety of meanings, depending on the discipline using the term. In science, for example, it is the variable that is being manipulated so that the change in another variable, referred to as the dependent variable, can be measured.

One of the biggest challenges many people have to deal with when looking at an independent variable is the fact that all variables depend on something. While that may be true, there is an easy way to determine what this variable is. Simply ask the question: What do I need to change in order to influence, or try to influence, another thing? The thing that needs changed would be your independent variable.

Another way to look at it is to understand that this variable is the one you can control. This is true for variables in both science and statistics. A dependent variable cannot be controlled, but can be influenced. For example, adding food coloring to a white carnation to change its color and see how pigmentation can be affected is an independent variable. How much the color is affected, if at all, would be the dependent variable. While you may be able to produce a different color of flower, the extent of the change, and how quickly it happens, are generally beyond the control of the experimenter.

There should be only one independent variable in any science experiment, at least at most levels of experimentation. For those who believe they have more than one of these factors, further thought should be done to truly understand what may be affecting the experiment. If more than one thing is possibly affecting the experiment, then it will be harder to pinpoint an exact cause. Therefore, it is best to keep experiments as controlled as possible, which means only having one independent variable.

In mathematics, the independent variable is one whose value does not depend on any other variables. For example, suppose you have the equation y=x+5. In this case "y" is the dependent variable and "x" is the independent one. This is because the value for "y" is dependent on the value of "x". In fact, the value of "y" cannot be determined without knowing the value of "x" because of that dependency. Once the value of the independent variable is provided, finding the value of the dependent variable becomes simple algebra.

All The Science is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon358098 — On Dec 09, 2013

The independent variable is the variable that you change. E.g., if you are doing a text to see if more power in a toy car increases the speed of the car, the independent variable would be the amount of power you insert into the car.

By go2jazz — On Apr 21, 2011

What are the independent and dependent variables in the color changing carnation experiment?

By anon154846 — On Feb 22, 2011

What is the independent and dependent variable in social science research per example the us policy in asia toward bilateral and multilateral.

By behaviourism — On Oct 09, 2010

@tandekile, I think it might be the other way around. In this independent variable experiment, The child with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is the dependent on the government's intervention in the classroom, therefore, the government intervention is the independent variable on which the child with FAS depends.

By tandekile — On Apr 13, 2010

i would like to know what my independent and dependent variables are in my hypothesis.

'Government intervention in the classroom can minimize the primary and subsequent secondary disabilities in children with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). I think my independent variable is the child with FAS and the dependent variables are the primary and secondary disabilities. the question is then what is the government?

All The Science, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

All The Science, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.