Correlational Studies (A Method in the Biological Perspective)

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Correlational Studies
(c) 2005 Carl Piaf
Correlational Studies
(A Method in the Biological Perspective)
Main features of correlational studies:
•
Variables - Quantifiable measurement of two or more identified
variables.
•
Correlation Coefficient - Mathematical or graphical presentation of
the variables, e.g. a graph showing the change in one variable
compared to the change in another, or the calculation of a correlation
coefficient.
Advantages of correlational studies:
•
•
•
•
•
No Manipulation - No need to manipulate variables. Natural
changes in variables can be observed.
Elucidation - Allows for the elucidation of areas that may be worthy of
experimental investigation.
Availability - Much of the data may have already been gathered
through other means (e.g. for social or political reasons).
Areas - Allow large areas or populations to be studied at one time.
Automation - May be significantly automated using computers if the
data is already available.
Disadvantages of correlational studies:
•
•
Cause-Effect - Impossible to determine cause-effect relationships.
Often the change in two variables is caused by a third un-investigated
variable, or no real effect occurs between variables.
Overview not mechanism - Politically problematic if data relates to
race, sex or gender. Correlations do not show the mechanisms of the
relationship, they just provide an overview.
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