Introduction
The normal distribution, also known as the Gaussian distribution or bell curve, is a probability distribution that is symmetric and bellshaped. It is widely used in statistics and various fields to model random variables. However, there is a common misconception that the normal distribution cannot be skewed. In reality, the normal distribution can indeed be skewed, but it is relatively rare. Skewness refers to the lack of symmetry in a distribution, where one tail is longer or heavier than the other. In a skewed normal distribution, the curve is still bellshaped, but it is shifted to one side, resulting in a longer tail on either the left or right side.
Key Takeaways
Skewness  Description 

Positive Skewness  Longer tail on the right side of the distribution 
Negative Skewness  Longer tail on the left side of the distribution 
Symmetric Distribution  No skewness, equal tails on both sides 
Understanding Normal Distribution
Definition of normal distribution
Normal distribution, also known as Gaussian distribution or bell curve, is a statistical distribution that is symmetric and follows a specific pattern. It is a widely used probability distribution in data analysis and statistics. In a normal distribution, the data is centered around the mean, with the majority of the values falling close to the mean and fewer values further away from it.
To understand normal distribution better, let’s take a look at its key characteristics:

Symmetry: A normal distribution is symmetric, which means that the left and right halves of the distribution are mirror images of each other. This symmetry is one of the defining features of a normal distribution.

Skewness: Skewness refers to the measure of asymmetry in a distribution. In a normal distribution, the skewness is zero, indicating that the distribution is perfectly symmetrical. However, in nonnormal distributions, the skewness can be positive or negative, indicating a deviation from normality.

Kurtosis: Kurtosis measures the tail behavior of a distribution. In a normal distribution, the kurtosis is zero, indicating that the tails of the distribution are neither too heavy (leptokurtic) nor too light (platykurtic). Deviations from zero kurtosis indicate a departure from the normal distribution.
How to determine if data is normally distributed
To determine if a dataset follows a normal distribution, there are several methods and tests available. Here are a few commonly used approaches:

Visual inspection: One way to assess the normality of data is by visually inspecting the distribution. Plotting a histogram or a density plot can provide insights into the shape of the distribution. In a normal distribution, the data will resemble a bellshaped curve.

Normality tests: Statistical tests, such as the ShapiroWilk test or the KolmogorovSmirnov test, can be used to formally test the normality of a dataset. These tests calculate a pvalue, which indicates the likelihood of the data being normally distributed. A pvalue greater than a chosen significance level (usually 0.05) suggests that the data can be considered normally distributed.

Skewness and kurtosis: Calculating the skewness and kurtosis of a dataset can provide additional insights into its departure from normality. Skewness measures the asymmetry of the distribution, while kurtosis measures the tail behavior. Large deviations from zero skewness or kurtosis values indicate nonnormality.
What is considered a normal distribution
In a normal distribution, the mean, median, and mode are all equal and located at the center of the distribution. The probability density function (PDF) of a normal distribution is symmetric and bellshaped. The distribution is characterized by its mean (μ) and standard deviation (σ), which determine the location and spread of the data, respectively.
The normal distribution plays a crucial role in statistics and data analysis due to the central limit theorem. According to this theorem, the sum or average of a large number of independent and identically distributed random variables will follow a normal distribution, regardless of the shape of the original distribution. This property makes the normal distribution a fundamental concept in inferential statistics.
It’s important to note that not all datasets follow a normal distribution. In realworld scenarios, data often exhibits skewness, outliers, or other deviations from normality. Understanding the characteristics of the normal distribution and being able to assess the normality of data is essential for accurate statistical analysis and making informed decisions.
Remember, the normal distribution is just one of many statistical distributions, and its properties make it a useful tool for modeling and analyzing data.
Understanding Skewness
Skewness is a statistical measure that helps us understand the asymmetry in a distribution. It provides insights into the shape and behavior of data, allowing us to identify any deviations from a normal or symmetric distribution. Skewness is an important concept in data analysis and plays a crucial role in various statistical analyses.
Definition of Skewness
Skewness refers to the measure of the asymmetry of a probability distribution. It quantifies the extent to which a distribution deviates from being symmetric. A distribution can be either positively skewed or negatively skewed.
In a positively skewed distribution, the tail on the right side is longer or fatter, indicating that the majority of the data points are concentrated towards the left. On the other hand, in a negatively skewed distribution, the tail on the left side is longer or fatter, indicating that the majority of the data points are concentrated towards the right.
How to Tell if a Distribution is Skewed Left or Right
To determine whether a distribution is skewed left or right, we can examine the relationship between the mean, median, and mode. If the mean is greater than the median, the distribution is positively skewed. Conversely, if the mean is less than the median, the distribution is negatively skewed.
Another way to identify skewness is by visualizing the distribution using a histogram or a box plot. A skewed distribution will exhibit a longer tail on one side compared to the other. This visual representation can provide a quick indication of the skewness present in the data.
What Makes a Distribution Skewed
Several factors can contribute to the skewness of a distribution. Outliers, which are extreme values that differ significantly from the majority of the data, can have a substantial impact on skewness. Outliers in the tail of a distribution can pull the mean away from the median, resulting in skewness.
Additionally, the shape of the underlying data can also influence skewness. For example, if the data follows a leptokurtic distribution (highly peaked with heavy tails), it is more likely to exhibit positive skewness. Conversely, if the data follows a platykurtic distribution (flatter with lighter tails), it is more likely to exhibit negative skewness.
What is an Acceptable Skewness
In general, a skewness value of zero indicates a perfectly symmetric distribution. However, in practice, it is rare to find a perfectly symmetric distribution. Therefore, a small amount of skewness is generally acceptable and expected in most datasets.
The magnitude of skewness is typically interpreted in relation to its standard error. A skewness value within the range of 1 to +1 is considered moderately skewed. Values beyond this range indicate a higher degree of skewness.
How Skewed is Too Skewed
Determining how skewed is too skewed depends on the context and the specific analysis being performed. In some cases, a highly skewed distribution may be acceptable, especially if the analysis is robust to deviations from normality. However, in other cases, extreme skewness may require data transformation or the use of alternative statistical methods.
It is important to note that skewness should not be considered in isolation. Other statistical measures, such as kurtosis, should also be taken into account to gain a comprehensive understanding of the distribution’s behavior.
In conclusion, understanding skewness is crucial for analyzing data and assessing the symmetry of a distribution. By considering skewness along with other statistical moments, we can gain valuable insights into the behavior and characteristics of the data.
The Intersection of Normal Distribution and Skewness
Skewness is a statistical measure that quantifies the asymmetry in the distribution of a dataset. It provides insights into the shape of the distribution and the deviation from normality. On the other hand, the normal distribution, also known as the Gaussian distribution or bell curve, is a symmetric probability distribution that is widely used in statistics and data analysis.
Can a normal distribution be skewed?
No, a normal distribution cannot be skewed. The defining characteristic of a normal distribution is its symmetry, where the mean, median, and mode are all equal and located at the center of the distribution. The probability density function (PDF) of a normal distribution is symmetric, with the tails on both sides extending infinitely.
Can a normal distribution be skewed right?
No, a normal distribution cannot be skewed right. Skewness refers to the asymmetry of a distribution, and a rightskewed distribution has a longer tail on the right side. However, a normal distribution is perfectly symmetric, and its tails extend infinitely in both directions. Therefore, it cannot exhibit rightskewness.
Is a normal distribution positively skewed?
No, a normal distribution is not positively skewed. Positive skewness occurs when the tail of the distribution extends towards the right, indicating a higher frequency of values on the left side. However, a normal distribution is symmetric, and its tails extend infinitely in both directions. Therefore, it cannot exhibit positive skewness.
Can a normal distribution be negative?
No, a normal distribution cannot be negative. The term “negative” in this context might refer to negative skewness, which occurs when the tail of the distribution extends towards the left. However, a normal distribution is symmetric, and its tails extend infinitely in both directions. Therefore, it cannot exhibit negative skewness.
Does a skewed distribution have a standard deviation?
Yes, a skewed distribution has a standard deviation. The standard deviation is a measure of the spread or dispersion of a distribution. It quantifies the average distance between each data point and the mean. Skewness, on the other hand, measures the asymmetry of the distribution. These two measures provide different insights into the characteristics of a dataset. While the standard deviation captures the spread, skewness captures the departure from symmetry.
In summary, a normal distribution is a symmetric distribution that cannot be skewed. Skewness is a measure of asymmetry in a distribution, and it is not applicable to a normal distribution. However, skewed distributions do exist, and they can have both positive and negative skewness. These distributions have a standard deviation that quantifies their spread. Understanding skewness and its relationship with normality is essential in data analysis and statistical inference.
The Impact of Outliers and Skewness on Normal Distribution
Do outliers skew data?
Outliers can have a significant impact on the distribution of data, including the skewness of the distribution. Skewness refers to the measure of asymmetry in a statistical distribution. In a normal distribution, also known as a Gaussian distribution or bell curve, the data is symmetrically distributed around the mean, resulting in a skewness value of zero. However, when outliers are present, they can distort the distribution and lead to a nonnormal or skewed distribution.
Skewness is a measure of the deviation from normality in a distribution. It quantifies the extent to which a distribution is asymmetrical. A positive skewness indicates that the tail of the distribution is skewed to the right, while a negative skewness indicates that the tail is skewed to the left. Outliers can contribute to both positive and negative skewness, depending on their position relative to the rest of the data.
To understand the impact of outliers on skewness, let’s consider an example. Suppose we have a dataset of exam scores for a class of students. The scores are normally distributed, with a mean of 70 and a standard deviation of 10. However, there is one student who scored exceptionally high with a score of 100. This outlier significantly affects the skewness of the distribution.
By calculating the skewness of the dataset before and after removing the outlier, we can observe the impact. Before removing the outlier, the skewness value might be positive, indicating a rightskewed distribution. However, after removing the outlier, the skewness value would decrease, approaching zero, indicating a more symmetric distribution.
It is important to note that outliers should not be automatically discarded without careful consideration. Outliers can provide valuable insights into the data and should be thoroughly examined to determine if they are genuine data points or measurement errors. Additionally, the impact of outliers on skewness should be assessed in the context of the specific analysis or study being conducted.
What causes a skewed distribution?
Skewed distributions can occur due to various factors, including the presence of outliers, the nature of the data, and the underlying processes generating the data. Here are some common causes of skewed distributions:

Outliers: As mentioned earlier, outliers can contribute to skewness in a distribution. Outliers that are significantly larger or smaller than the rest of the data can pull the distribution in the direction of their extreme values, resulting in a skewed distribution.

Nonnormal data: If the data being analyzed does not follow a normal distribution, it can lead to skewness. Certain types of data, such as financial data or income data, often exhibit skewness due to their inherent nature.

Data transformation: Skewness can also be introduced or reduced through data transformation techniques. Transforming the data using mathematical functions like logarithm or square root can help normalize the distribution and reduce skewness.

Tail behavior: The behavior of the tail of a distribution can also contribute to skewness. If the tail is longer on one side compared to the other, it can result in a skewed distribution.

Sample size: Skewness can be influenced by the sample size. Smaller sample sizes are more prone to skewness, as a few extreme values can have a larger impact on the overall distribution.
Understanding the causes of skewed distributions is essential for accurate data analysis and interpretation. Skewness and other statistical moments provide valuable insights into the shape and characteristics of the data, allowing researchers and analysts to make informed decisions based on the data’s distribution.
Skewed Normal Distribution
Definition and explanation of skewed normal distribution
The skewed normal distribution is a statistical distribution that deviates from the normal or Gaussian distribution in terms of skewness. Skewness refers to the measure of asymmetry in a distribution. In a normal distribution, the data is symmetrically distributed around the mean, resulting in a bellshaped curve. However, in a skewed normal distribution, the curve is not symmetrical and is instead skewed towards one side.
Skewness in a distribution can be either positive or negative. Positive skewness occurs when the tail of the distribution is skewed towards the right, while negative skewness occurs when the tail is skewed towards the left. This means that the majority of the data is concentrated on one side of the distribution, causing it to be stretched in that direction.
To understand the concept of skewness, it is important to differentiate it from the normal distribution. The normal distribution, also known as the bell curve, is a symmetric distribution where the mean, median, and mode are all equal. It is widely used in statistics and data analysis due to its welldefined properties and the application of the central limit theorem.
However, it is important to note that a normal curve cannot be skewed. The normal distribution is characterized by its symmetry, and any deviation from this symmetry would result in a nonnormal distribution. Skewness is a measure of the deviation from normality, and a skewed normal distribution represents a departure from the standard symmetric bell curve.
Comparison between skewness and normal distribution
To better understand the differences between skewness and the normal distribution, let’s compare their characteristics:
Characteristic  Skewness  Normal Distribution 

Symmetry  Skewed towards one side  Symmetric 
Mean, Median, Mode  Not equal  Equal 
Probability Density Function (PDF)  Not symmetric  Symmetric 
Tail Behavior  Longer tail on one side  Symmetrical tails 
Outlier Impact  Can have a significant impact  Less affected by outliers 
Kurtosis  Can be leptokurtic or platykurtic  Mesokurtic (normal kurtosis) 
As seen in the table, skewness introduces asymmetry in the distribution, affecting the mean, median, mode, and the shape of the probability density function. Skewed data can have a longer tail on one side, indicating a higher concentration of values in that direction. Additionally, outliers can have a more pronounced impact on skewed distributions compared to the normal distribution.
Can a normal curve be skewed?
No, a normal curve cannot be skewed. The normal distribution is inherently symmetric, with equal probabilities on both sides of the mean. Skewness is a measure of asymmetry, and any deviation from symmetry would result in a nonnormal distribution. Therefore, if a distribution is skewed, it cannot be considered a normal distribution.
In conclusion, the skewed normal distribution represents a departure from the symmetric bell curve of the normal distribution. Skewness introduces asymmetry in the distribution, affecting various characteristics such as the mean, median, mode, and the shape of the probability density function. Understanding skewness and its impact on data analysis is crucial for assessing the deviation from normality and making appropriate statistical inferences.
Conclusion
In conclusion, the normal distribution is a symmetrical probability distribution that is not skewed. It is characterized by a bellshaped curve with the mean, median, and mode all being equal and located at the center of the distribution. The tails of the distribution extend infinitely in both directions, and the standard deviation determines the spread of the data. Skewness, on the other hand, refers to the asymmetry of a distribution. While other types of distributions can be skewed, the normal distribution is always symmetrical. It is a fundamental concept in statistics and is widely used in various fields to model and analyze data.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the content definition of skewness in a normal distribution?
The content definition of skewness in a normal distribution refers to the measure of asymmetry of the probability distribution of a realvalued random variable about its mean. In a normal distribution, the skewness should ideally be zero, indicating perfect symmetry.
2. What causes a skewed distribution?
A skewed distribution can be caused by several factors such as outliers, a nonnormal distribution of data, or the nature of the data itself. For instance, income distribution in a population is often rightskewed because a small number of people earn significantly more than the average.
3. Can a normal distribution be skewed?
No, a normal distribution cannot be skewed. By definition, a normal distribution, also known as Gaussian distribution or bell curve, is symmetric. Skewness is a measure of asymmetry, and a normal distribution should have a skewness of zero.
4. How can you determine normal distribution?
You can determine a normal distribution by conducting normality tests, examining the skewness and kurtosis of the data, and visually inspecting the data using a histogram or a QQ plot. If the data follows a bell curve, it is normally distributed.
5. What is considered an acceptable skewness in data analysis?
In data analysis, an absolute skewness value of less than 1 is generally considered acceptable. This indicates that the distribution is not highly skewed. However, the acceptable level of skewness can vary depending on the specific context and field of study.
6. Can a normal distribution be skewed right or left?
No, a normal distribution cannot be skewed either right or left. A normal distribution is symmetric about its mean, meaning its shape is the same on both sides of the center point.
7. How does a skewed distribution impact the standard deviation?
A skewed distribution can impact the standard deviation by increasing it. This is because skewness can cause more data to fall on one side of the mean, increasing the overall dispersion of data points.
8. What is the difference between skewness and normal distribution?
Skewness is a measure of the asymmetry of a distribution, while a normal distribution is a type of statistical distribution that is symmetric. In a normal distribution, the mean, median, and mode are all equal and the skewness is zero.
9. Is a skewed distribution normal?
A skewed distribution is not normal. Normal distributions are symmetric and have a skewness of zero. If a distribution is skewed, it means it has a long tail on one side or the other, indicating it is not symmetric and therefore not normal.
10. What makes a distribution skewed?
A distribution becomes skewed when it has a long tail on one side or the other. This can be caused by a number of factors, including outliers, nonnormal distribution of data, or the nature of the data itself. Skewness is a measure of this asymmetry.