Conducting Correlational Research - Insights and Examples

When conducting correlational studies, research determine whether two variables (for example, height and weight or smoking and cancer) are related to each other. Such studies assess whether the variables are “corre-lated” in some way: Do people who are taller tend to weight more, or do those who smoke tend to have a higher incidence of cancer? The correlational method is a type of nonexperimental method that describes the relationship between two measured variables.In addition to describing a relationship, correlations allow us to make predictions from one variable to another.If two variables are correlated, we can predict from one variable to the other with a certain degree of accuracy.For example, knowing that height and weight are correlated allows us to estimate,within a certain range, an individual’s weight based on knowing that per- son’s height. Correlational studies are conducted for a variety of reason.sometimes it is impractical or ethically impossible to do an experimental study. For example, it would be ethically impossible to manipulate smoking and assess whether it causes cancer in humans. How would you, as a participant in an experiment, like to be randomly assigned to the smoking condition and be told that you have to smoke a pack of cigarettes a day?

Obviously, this is not a viable experiment, so one means of assessing the relationship between smoking and cancer is through correlational studies In this type of study, we can examine people who have already chosen to smoke and assess the degree of relationship between smoking and cancer. Sometimes researchers choose to conduct correlational research because they are interested in measuring many variables and assessing the relation- ships between them. For example, they might measure various aspects of personality and assess the relationship between dimensions of personality.       

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