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RELATED BOOK

Statistics For Dummies, 2nd Edition

By Deborah J. Rumsey

linear relationship between two variables on a scatterplot. The value of r is always

between +1 and 1. To interpret its value, see which of the following values your

correlation r is closest to:

0. No linear relationship

If the scatterplot doesnt indicate theres at least somewhat of a linear relationship,

the correlation doesnt mean much. Why measure the amount of linear relationship

if there isnt enough of one to speak of? However, you can take the idea of no linear

relationship two ways: 1) If no relationship at all exists, calculating the correlation

doesnt make sense because correlation only applies to linear relationships; and 2)

If a strong relationship exists but its not linear, the correlation may be misleading,

because in some cases a strong curved relationship exists. Thats why its critical to

examine the scatterplot first.

Scatterplots with correlations of a) +1.00; b) 0.50; c) +0.85; and d) +0.15.

The above figure shows examples of what various correlations look like, in terms of

the strength and direction of the relationship. Figure (a) shows a correlation of

nearly +1, Figure (b) shows a correlation of 0.50, Figure (c) shows a correlation of

+0.85, and Figure (d) shows a correlation of +0.15. Comparing Figures (a) and (c),

you see Figure (a) is nearly a perfect uphill straight line, and Figure (c) shows a very

strong uphill linear pattern (but not as strong as Figure (a)). Figure (b) is going

downhill but the points are somewhat scattered in a wider band, showing a linear

relationship is present, but not as strong as in Figures (a) and (c). Figure (d) doesnt

show much of anything happening (and it shouldnt, since its correlation is very

close to 0).

Many folks make the mistake of thinking that a correlation of 1 is a bad thing,

indicating no relationship. Just the opposite is true! A correlation of 1 means the

data are lined up in a perfect straight line, the strongest negative linear relationship

you can get. The (minus) sign just happens to indicate a negative relationship, a

downhill line.

relationship? Most statisticians like to see correlations beyond at least +0.5 or 0.5

before getting too excited about them. Dont expect a correlation to always be 0.99

however; remember, these are real data, and real data arent perfect.

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