We'll start with the mean. The mean is computed by adding up all the values and dividing by the number of observations there are (N or n). Two symbols appear for means, these are x̄ (sample) and μ (population). If you take each score in a distribution and subtract the mean from it, and add all these differences the sum will always be 0. The mean does have some disadvantages, such as extreme scores pulling the mean one way or another. This issue doesn't occur with the median. To work out the population mean, or μ, all data in that population must be added up and divided by the population. For the sample mean, or x̄, all sample data must be added together and divided by the number of observations in the sample.
A different type of mean to the arithmetic mean above is a weighted mean. This allows us to create accurate calculations even when all the information isn't known. It's fairly straight forward, like above. The formula for weighted means is as follows: x̄ = (w1X1 + w2X2 + ... + wnXn) / (w1 + w2 + ... + wn). 'w' here denotes the weight given to the value 'X', the higher the weight the more influence it has on the mean. If the weights are all 1 you essentially have the same formula for as the arithmetic mean in the previous paragraph. The problem with this is that sometimes the weights aren't known and outliers are very common in economics.
Next, we move on to the median. This, as many already know, is the middle score when the observations are arranged in order. If there is an even number of scores, it's the mean of the middle two values. There is a unique median for each set of data. It isn't affected by extreme values and is therefore a very good measure of central tendency.
The logical step now is to introduce the mode. The mode is the most frequently appearing value in a data-set. It is of limited use because it doesn't give any weighting to unique values. Other problems arise, such as some data having no mode and some having more than one. It really doesn't give a good measure of central tendency for a set of data.
Skewness! A few graphs will crop up in this section. Skewness tells us in which direction the data swings, it is normally represented graphically. We start off with the bell curve. This is when the mode = median = mean, we have no skew and the data fits nicely into this 'bell' shape shown below. The distribution is symmetrical.