Return to:   The Correlational Technique

The correlation is a statistical technique used to indicate the degree of relationship between two co-variates.

Correlational Graph The correlation is not a research method, but a research technique. It endeavours to find relationships between two co-variates, or independent behaviours, situations, or events. A correlation can be positive or negative. A positive correlation means that there is a positive relationship between the two independent co-variates, and that as one increases, so does the other. A negative correlation means that there is a negative relationship between the two independent co-variates, where here an increase in one co-variate is related to a decrease in the other. The degree of relationship can be illustrated using a descriptive statistic called a scattergram. The scattergrams trend line illustrates the strength, direction, and degree of positive or negative correlation. It may also indicate no correlation at all. The strength of correlation can be further tested using an inferential statistic called a correlation co-efficient.

Spearmans rho

Using the likes of Spearman's rho, the nearer rho is to +1, the more positive the relationship is said to be, while the nearer rho is to -1, the more negative the relationship between the co-variates is said to be. A rho of near 0 indicates no relationship between the co-variates. The correlational technique is useful in situations where an experiment would be unethical or impractical. This can help decide whether a more rigorous scientific investigation into the apparent relationship is justified. This is enhanced by the correlational technique's ability to produce quantifiable data in the form of a co-efficient. However, even with a co-efficient be wary of correlations. Read Approaches and Methods to find out about the Maharishi Effect! Correlations can only infer a positive or negative relationship between its covariates. No cause-effect conclusions can be reached. This is the province of the experimental method.

Chart: Mark in examinination vs hours spent studying
What type of correlation do you think this is? Why is this the case?

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