What is Correlational Research?
The correlation research method is appropriate when researchers want to study and “assess relationships among naturally occurring variables.” Assessment means making predictions about the nature of the relationships being studied. It also means describing the relations and assigning them a “correlation coefficient” that describes the direction and magnitude of the movement of variables to one another.
There are many types of correlational research. The commonality among all types of correlational research is that they explore relationships between variables. Where descriptive research only described what was going on, correlational research talks about the link between different things. It is important to understand that correlational research does NOT tell us that Variable A caused Variable B, but rather that they are somehow related. For example, if I told you that there was a correlation between domestic violence (violence between family members) and bowling, you would look at me strangely. But there is a relationship between the variables (variable 1- domestic violence, and variable 2- bowling). As more people bowl in the US, more domestic violence occurs. [pic] [pic]
Does that mean that bowling causes domestic violence- like you had bad game and take it out on a loved one? Or domestic violence causes bowling- like you fight with a sibling and feel the need to take it out on some pins? As you have already guessed- one does not cause the other to occur, but they are related- for every time people bowl, I can predict that domestic violence will go up, and every time domestic violence goes down I should be able to find a lane at the local bowling alley. There is a hidden variable that links both of them together. In this case it is winter time. In the winter more people bowl and more people stay in their homes (which increases the chances of domestic violence).
Direction of a Correlation
Before we examine the different types of correlational research methods, understand that correlations can go in two directions: positive and negative. • Positive Correlation: when two variables go in the SAME direction. For example, domestic violence and bowling. When bowling goes up, so does domestic violence. When domestic violence decreases, so does bowling. •Negative Correlation: A relationship between two variables in which one variable increases as the other decreases, and vice versa. Here are a few examples of a negative correlation: The more time I spend at the mall, the less money I have in my checking account. The higher my mutual fund’s expense ratio, the lower my investment returns. The more hours I spend at the office, the less time I spend with my family.
•No Correlation or Zero Correlation: If there is no relationship between the two variables such that the value of one variable change and the other variable remain constant is called no or zero correlation.
“Correlation is a statistical technique that can show whether and how strongly pairs of variables are related” (Creative Research Systems, 2010). Correlation research method is used in scientific research to study the association and/or relationship between variables. When the association between two variables becomes correlation coefficient, it is being calculated through quantitative measure. The goal for using this method is to observe if one or more variables cause and predict other variables, without having a causal relationship between them (Creative Research Systems, 2010). One great article I found is about money and happiness: “Can Money Buy Happiness: Are Lottery Winners any Happier in The Long Run?” At first people see how happy and ecstatic people that win the lottery are on television, however, past that point, there are no details on how their life is from there on. The question of whether they are happier or not still remains. The...
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