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What Is Correlation In Psychology

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Examples Of Positive Correlation In Real Life

Correlational coefficients – Intro to Psychology

If I walk more, I will burn more calories. With the growth of the company, the market value of company stocks increase. When demand increases, price of the product increases . When you study more, you score high in the exams. When you pay more to your employees, theyre motivated to perform better. With increase in consumption of junk food, there is increase in obesity. When you meditate more, your concentration level increases. Couples who spend more time together have a healthier and long-lasting relationship.

It must be noted that correlation does not imply causation. A direct relationship or positive relationship does not imply that they are the cause and effect of each other. A correlation between two variables aids the researcher in determining the association between them. However, statistical data is based on a sample, and hence, can sometimes lead to misleading results. A strong positive correlation does not imply there is necessarily a relationship between them it might be due to an unknown external variable. Hence, researchers have to be careful about the statistical data while drawing inferences.

Is A Positive Correlation

A positive correlation is a relationship between two variables in which both variables move in the same direction. Therefore, when one variable increases as the other variable increases, or one variable decreases while the other decreases.

What is the difference between positive and negative correlation?

In a positive correlation, as one variable increases, so does the other variable, and as the first decreases, so does the second. A negative correlation is the opposite. As one variable increases, the other variable decreases, and as the first decreases, the second increases.

What Is The Correlation Coefficient

A correlation coefficient is an important value in correlational research that indicates whether the inter-relationship between 2 variables is positive, negative or non-existent. It is usually represented with the sign and is part of a range of possible correlation coefficients from -1.0 to +1.0.

The strength of a correlation between quantitative variables is typically measured using a statistic called Pearsons Correlation Coefficient . A positive correlation is indicated by a value of 1.0, a perfect negative correlation is indicated by a value of -1.0 while zero correlation is indicated by a value of 0.0.

It is important to note that a correlation coefficient only reflects the linear relationship between 2 variables it does not capture non-linear relationships and cannot separate dependent and independent variables. The correlation coefficient helps you to determine the degree of statistical relationship that exists between variables.

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Characteristics Of A Correlational Study

Correlational studies are often used in psychology, as well as other fields like medicine. Correlational research is a preliminary way to gather information about a topic. The method is also useful if researchers are unable to perform an experiment.

Researchers use correlations to see if a relationship between two or more variables exists, but the variables themselves are not under the control of the researchers.

While correlational research can demonstrate a relationship between variables, it cannot prove that changing one variable will change another. In other words, correlational studies cannot prove cause-and-effect relationships.

When you encounter research that refers to a “link” or an “association” between two things, they are most likely talking about a correlational study.

Correlational Research: What It Is With Examples

AQA GCSE Psychology Research Methods Revision

Our minds can do some brilliant things. For example, it can memorize the jingle of a pizza truck. The louder the jingle, the closer the pizza truck is to us. Who taught us that? Nobody! We relied on our understanding and came to a conclusion. We dont stop there, do we? If there are multiple pizza trucks in the area and each one has a different jingle, we would memorize it all and relate the jingle to its pizza truck.

This is what correlational research precisely is, establishing a relationship between two variables, jingle and distance of the truck in this particular example. The correlational study looks for variables that seem to interact with each other. When you see one variable changing, you have a fair idea of how the other variable will change.

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What Do We Observe

After plotting the points on the graph, we can notice the upward/rising trend of the scatter diagram. This indicates that as the value of variable x increases, the value of y also increases. Thus, this indicates that the students who have put in more hours of study have scored better in the test.

However, this survey method has its own limitations. This data is based on the statistics of 20 students in a class with different IQ levels. Though the trend here observed is positive, there are high chances that the IQ level of that student can play an important contributing factor too. The inference that more the hours you study, better the score, might hold true, if it is assumed that the IQ level of all the students is similar, on an average. However, there are other variables that cannot be ruled out, such as the level of concentration of the students, which can influence the scores.

Does B Affect A

Can the relationship be LOGICALLY explained in either direction? If so, how? This is the best way for students to begin evaluating a correlational study.

In most correlational studies we make the immediate conclusion that variable A is affecting variable B. For example:

  • Time spent using technology is correlated with working memory capacity in children
  • Socioeconomic status is correlated with hippocampal development
  • Stress is correlated with cardiovascular disease
  • Its logical to first conclude that variable A is affecting variable B. Most students then evaluate such a conclusion by saying correlation doesnt mean causation and then move on to the next point.

    However, we can show correlation doesnt necessarily mean causation by showing how variable B might logically be affecting variable A. . This is explained best when theres supporting evidence. Lets look at three examples of this using the above studies.

  • Children with low working memory capacity might be more drawn to technology and spend longer time on it instead of other activities. Why? Other non-tech activities like reading and puzzles or board games require strong working memory and if kids dont have that they might not enjoy it as much as digital games that dont require the same working memory capacity.
  • Notice how the above explanations begin by stating the relationship in the opposite direction but go further to give a logical explanation as to why the relationship could be explained in both directions.

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    Correlational Studies: Archival Research

    Archival research is a type of correlational research that uses secondary data, such as previous research, case studies, historical documents, and medical registries, to measure variables.

    Using the Children’s Health Foundation Paediatric Asthma Registry to observe the relationship between asthma and prevalence in children is an example of archival research.

    The advantage of correlational archival research is that it can be cheaper than alternative methods. Data is readily available, and researchers can obtain data that may no longer be collected, such as documents from historical periods.

    Nevertheless, the disadvantages of archival research should be considered. While conducting archival research, the researcher has no control over data collection methods, making it difficult to determine if the data is reliable and valid. Another issue is some data may be missing that is needed for the research.

    Correlation Analysis In Research


    Correlations measure the association between two variables that exist naturally, meaning researchers do not manipulate the variables. Thus, correlations are non-experimental research methods.

    Correlations are used when conducting:

    • Non-experimental studies on two variables .

    • Studies where there may be a causal relationship , but it isnt ethical or practical to manipulate the variables.

    • To test the reliability of scales, tests and questionnaires.

    Suppose you have developed a new scale and want to test its reliability.

    You could investigate it with the test-retest method. When using this method, researchers get some participants to complete the scale and then ask the same participants to complete the scale again later.

    The researchers then run a correlational analysis to see if the scores from the first time correlated with the second time. If they do, it suggests that the scale has high reliability.

    A correlation exists when the scores on one variable covary or are associated with another variable’s values.

    Correlation analysis is widely used in psychological and real-world research.

    For example, you may have come across studies that look at the relationship between gender and emotional intelligence. Although it seems like this study would perform correlation analysis, it is investigating differences between the two groups, males and females, and this is not what correlational analyses do.

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    How To Collect Correlational Data

    There are many different methods you can use in correlational research. In the social and behavioral sciences, the most common data collection methods for this type of research include surveys, observations, and secondary data.

    Its important to carefully choose and plan your methods to ensure the reliability and validity of your results. You should carefully select a representative sample so that your data reflects the population youre interested in without bias.

    Correlational Research Designs: Types Examples & Methods

  • Correlational Research Designs: Types, Examples & Methods
  • A human mind is a powerful tool that allows you to sift through seemingly unrelated variables and establish a connection with regards to a specific subject at hand. This skill is what comes to play when we talk about correlational research.

    Correlational research is something that we do every day think about how you establish a connection between the doorbell ringing at a particular time and the milkmans arrival. As such, it is expedient to understand the different types of correlational research that are available and more importantly, how to go about it.

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    The Postwar Era: Americanization And The Alternatives

    In the USA, the postwar years saw explosive expansion and differentiation in both the scientific and professional realms. The establishment of a divisional structure within the APA in 1947already negotiated during the warreflected this process. Despite the optimism of the time, it proved difficult to subsume all aspects of psychology’s protean identity within single university departments or graduate programs. Fragmentation was most obvious in the different research practices institutionalized in experimental, social, and personality psychology.

    The most important exceptions to the overall trend were the impact of Piaget in developmental psychology, and the reception of work by British psychologists Hans Eysenck and Raymond Catell in personality testing and diagnostics. In cognition research, the work of Bartlett and the achievements of Soviet researchers such as Alexander Luria were mobilized to lend respectability and theoretical sophistication to the resurgent field in the USA. Nonetheless, the all-pervasive influence of computer metaphors and the associated information-processing models were plainly of Anglo-American origin.

    Ivan Moura, … Markus Endler, in, 2020

    They Have A Harmful Effect On Mental Health


    Dr. Bloom highlights that affairs cause all kinds of distress across the gamut of human emotion ranging from devastation to rage, all of which can be bounded up with guilt and shame. Affairs and the process of healing that follows can lead someone to lose sense of their own value or even their ability to trust themselves or their judgment or their intuition.

    In addition, Games points out that the betrayed partner can struggle with impacts on self-esteem and confidence, self-worth, unclear sense of self, poor self-esteem/confidence, appearance insecurities, etc.” She also emphasizes that studies have shown that betrayed partners may suffer from depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorderlike symptoms, including flashbacks, hypervigilance, and nightmares.

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    Scatter Plots And Correlation

    Scatter plots are used to plot variables on a chart to observe the associations or relationships between them. The horizontal axis represents one variable, and the vertical axis represents the other.


    Each point on the plot is a different measurement. From those measurements, a trend line can be calculated. The correlation coefficient is the slope of that line. When the correlation is weak , the line is hard to distinguish. When the correlation is strong , the line will be more apparent.

    Characteristics Of A Relationship

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  • The Direction of a RelationshipThe correlation measure tells us about the direction of the relationship between the two variables. The direction can be positive or negative.
  • Positive: In a positive relationship both variables tend to move in the same direction: If one variable increases, the other tends to also increase. If one decreases, the other tends to also.
  • In the example above, GPA and MathSAT are positively related. As GPA increases, the other variable also tends to increase.

  • Negative: In a negative relationship the variables tend to move in the opposite directions: If one variable increases, the other tends to decrease, and vice-versa.
  • The direction of the relationship between two variables is identified by the sign of the correlation coefficient for the variables. Postive relationships have a “plus” sign, whereas negative relationships have a “minus” sign.

  • The Form of a Relationship: The form or shape of a relationship refers to whether the relationship is straight or curved.
  • Linear: A straight relationship is called linear, because it approximates a straight line. The GPA, MathSAT example shows a relationship that is, roughly, a linear relationship.
  • Curvilinear: A curved relationship is called curvilinear, because it approximates a curved line. An example of the relationship between the Miles-per-gallon and engine displacement of various automobiles sold in the USA in 1982 is shown below. This is curvilinear .
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    What Is Meant Correlation

    A correlation research design is a non-experimental technique that does not require the researcher to manipulate the variables. Instead, they measure the variables and then carry out a correlational analysis. At the same time, the analysis gives the researcher information regarding the strength and direction of the correlation.

    What Are The Data Collection Methods In Correlational Research

    Psychology Lessons : What Is a Positive Correlation in Psychology?

    Data collection methods in correlational research are the research methodologies adopted by persons carrying out correlational research in order to determine the linear statistical relationship between 2 variables. These data collection methods are used to gather information in correlational research.

    The 3 methods of data collection in correlational research are naturalistic observation method, archival data method, and the survey method. All of these would be clearly explained in the subsequent paragraphs.

    • Naturalistic Observation

    Naturalistic observation is a correlational research methodology that involves observing peoples behaviors as shown in the natural environment where they exist, over a period of time. It is a type of research-field method that involves the researcher paying closing attention to natural behavior patterns of the subjects under consideration.

    This method is extremely demanding as the researcher must take extra care to ensure that the subjects do not suspect that they are being observed else they deviate from their natural behavior patterns. It is best for all subjects under observation to remain anonymous in order to avoid a breach of privacy.

    The major advantages of the naturalistic observation method are that it allows the researcher to fully observe the subjects in their natural state. However, it is a very expensive and time-consuming process plus the subjects can become aware of this act at any time and may act contrary.

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    Informal Interpretations Of Correlation

    From scattergrams, we can make informal interpretations of correlations. Informal interpretations are essentially when the researcher or reader attempts to understand the relationship between variables by interpreting scattergrams rather than based on statistical findings.

    However, researchers should refrain from mentioning informal interpretations of correlation in psychological publications. Instead, they should only include correlational analyses from statistical findings. The scattergrams are usually included so the reader can understand and visualise the findings.

    Types Of Correlation Analysis

    There are three types of correlation:

    • Positive correlation: From these, researchers can infer when one variable increases, the other variable also increases.

    • Negative correlation: It can be inferred that as one variable increases, the other variable decreases, or vice versa.

    • Zero/no correlation: there is no correlation/ relationship between the variables.

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    What Is The Most Positive Correlation

    A correlation of -1.0 indicates a perfect negative correlation, and a correlation of 1.0 indicates a perfect positive correlation.

    How do you state a positive correlation?

    A positive correlation is when the two variables move in the same direction. In other words, a positive correlation is when an increase in one variable is accompanied by an increase in another variable.

    Correlation Doesnt Prove Causation

    Correlation and T

    Sometimes when two variables are highly positively correlated, we may be tempted to conclude that X causes Y. For example, we may be tempted to conclude that violent TV shows cause aggressive behaviours in children. This may not be true because there could very well be a third independent variable that causes a child to watch violent TV shows and at the same time causes the child to behave aggressively. How about the lack of adult supervision? When a child is left alone without adult supervision, he/she may be able to get away with acting aggressively towards other children and also get away with watching TV shows that adults would normally not allow.

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    Explanation Of Negative Correlation In Psychology With Examples

    Statistically, correlation is a measurement of the relationship between variables. In psychology though, the concept represents the association between two variables/events/instances. This PsycholoGenie article provides an explanation of negative correlation in psychology with examples.

    Statistically, correlation is a measurement of the relationship between variables. In psychology though, the concept represents the association between two variables/events/instances. This PsycholoGenie article provides an explanation of negative correlation in psychology with examples.

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