Similar to an independent variable, a covariate is complementary to the dependent, or response, variable. A variable is a covariate if it is related to the dependent variable. According to this definition, any variable that is measurable and considered to have a statistical relationship with the dependent variable would qualify as a potential covariate. A covariate is thus a possible predictive or explanatory variable of the dependent variable. This may be the reason that in regression analyses, independent variables (i.e., the regressors) are sometimes called covariates. Used in this context, covariates are of primary interest. In most other circumstances, however, covariates are of no primary interest compared with the independent variables. They arise because the experimental or observational units are heterogeneous. When this occurs, their ...
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