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# CORRELATIONAL RESEARCH DEFINITION AND PUPOSE

1. Correlational research involves collecting data to determine whether and to what degree a
relation exists between two or more variables. The degree of relation is expressed as a
correlation coefficient.
2. If two variables are related, scores within a certain range on one variable are associated with
scores within a certain range on the other variable.
3. A relation between variables does not imply that one is the cause of the other. You should not
infer causal relations on the basis of data from a correlational study.

## THE CORRELATIONAL RESEARCH PROCESS

Problem Selection

4. Correlational studies may be designed either to determine whether and how a set of variables
are related or to test hypotheses regarding expected relations. The variables to be correlated
should be selected on the basis of some rationale suggested by theory or experience.

## Participant and Instrument Selection

5. A common, minimally accepted sample size for a correlational study is 30 participants. If the
variables correlated have low reliabilities and validities, a bigger sample is necessary.

## Designed and Procedure

6. In the basic correlational design, scores for two (or more) variables of interest are obtained for
each member of a selected sample, and the paired scores are correlated.

## Data Analysis and Interpretation

7. A correlation coefficient is a decimal number between -1.00 and +1.00. It describes both the size
and direction of the relation between two variables. If the correlation coefficient is near .00, the
variables are not related.
8. A correlation coefficient near +1.00 indicates that the variables are strongly and positively
related. A person with a high score on one variable is likely to have a high score on the other
variable, and a person with a low score on the other. An increase on one variable is associated
with an increase on the other.
9. If the correlation coefficient is near -1.00, the variables are strongly and negatively or inversely
related. A person with a high score on the other variable. An increase on one variable is
associated with a decrease on the other variable.
10. Correlations of +1.00 and -1.00 represent the same strength but different directions of relation.
11. A correlation coefficient much lower than .50 is generally not useful for group prediction or
individual prediction. However, a combination of correlations below .50 may yield a useful
prediction.
12. Coefficients in the .60s and .70s are usually considered adequate for group prediction purposes,
and coefficients in the .80s and higher are adequate for individual prediction purposes.
13. Although all reliabilities in the .90s are acceptable, for certain kinds of instruments, such as
personality measures, a reliability in the .70s may be acceptable.
14. Common variance (or shared variance) indicates the extent to which variables vary in systematic
way; it is computed by squaring the correlation coefficient. The higher the common variance,
the higher correlation.
15. Statistical significance refers to the probability that the study results (e.g.,a correlation
coefficient of this size) would have occurred simply due to chance. To determine whether a
correlation is statistically significant, researchers set a standard (e.g., 95% confident, or
probability of chance =.05) and then compare the obtained correlation to a table that shows
correlation coefficient values for particular significance levels and sample sizes.
16. Small sample require larger correlation coefficients to achieve significance. Additionally, the
value of the correlation coefficient needed for significance increase as the level of confidence
increases.
17. A low coefficient represents a low degree of association between the variables, regardless of
statistical significance.
18. When interpreting any correlation coefficient, remember its association between variables, not
a cause-effect relation.

RELATIONSHIP STUDIES

19. A relationship study is conducted to gain insight into the variables or factors that are related to a
complex variable, such as academic achievement, motivation, or self-concept. Such studies give
direction to subsequent causal- comparative and experimental studies.

Data Collection

20. In a relationship study, the researcher first identifies the variables to be related. A smaller
number of carefully selected variables is preferred to a large number of carelessly selected
variables.
21. The population must be one for which data on each of the identified variables can be collected,
and one whose members are available to the researcher.
22. One advantage of a relationship study is that all the data may be collected within a relatively
short time period.

## Data Analysis and Interpretation

23. In a relationship study, the score for one variable are correlated with the scores for another
variable, or score for a number of variable are correlated with some particular of primary
interest.
24. Methods for computing correlation are distinguished mainly by the type of data to be
correlated. The most commonly used correlation is the product moment correlation coefficient
(Pearson r), which is used when both variables are expressed as continuous (i.e. ratio or
interval) data. The Spearman rho correlation is used when ordinal data (i.e. ranks) are
correlated.
25. Most correlational techniques are concerned with investigating linear relations, ones in which
an increase (or decrease) in one variable is associated with a corresponding increase (or
decrease) in another variable. In contrast, in a curvilinear relation, an increase in one variable is
associated with a corresponding increase in another variable up to a point at which further
increase in the first variable results in a corresponding decrease in the other variable (or vice
versa)
26. In addition to computing correlation coefficients for a total sample group, researchers may
examine relations among variables for certain defined subgroups, if the sample size is large
enough.
27. Attenuation is the reduction in correlation coefficients that tends to occur if the measures have
low reliability. In relationship studies, a correction for attenuation can be applied to provide an
estimate of what the correlation coefficient would be if both measures were perfectly reliable.
28. An narrow or restricted range of scores can lead to correlation coefficient underrepresenting a
true relation. A correction for restriction in range may be applied to obtain an estimate of what
the coefficient would be if the range of scores were not restricted.

PREDICTION STUDIES

29. A prediction study is an attempt to determine which of a number of variables are most highly
related to the criterion variable. Prediction studies are often conducted to facilitate decision
making about individuals or to aid in the selection of individuals.
30. The variable used to predict is called the predictor, and the variable that is predicted is a
complex variable called the criterion.
31. If several predictor variables each correlate well with a criterion, then a prediction based on a
combination of those variables will be more accurate than a prediction based on any one of
them.

Data Collection
32. The major difference in data collection procedures for a prediction study and relationship study
is that in a prediction study the predictor variables are generally obtained earlier than the
criterion variable, whereas in a relationship study all variables are collected within a relatively
short period of time. After the strength of the predictor variable is established, the predictive
relation is tested with a new group of participants to determine how well it predicts for other
groups.
33. Shrinkage is the tendency for the prediction to be less accurate for a group other than the one
on which it was originally developed.

## Data Analysis and Interpretation

34. Data analysis in prediction studies involves correlating each predictor variable with the criterion
variable.
35. A prediction study using multiple variables results in a prediction equation referred to as a
multiple regression equation, which combines all variables that individually predict the criterion
to make a more accurate prediction.
36. The accuracy of prediction can be lowered by unreliable variables, length of time between
gathering data about the predictors and the criterion variable, and the generality of the
criterion.
37. Predicted scores should be reported as a range, not a single number.
38. The coefficient of determination indicated the percentage of variance in the criterion variable
that is predicted by the predictor variables (s).
OTHER CORRELATION-BASED ANALYSES
39. More complex correlation-based analyses include discriminant function analysis, canonical
analysis, path analysis, structural equation modelling, and factor analysis.