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Module

November
2018
Problem: Does Smoking Cause
Lung Cancer?
• How do we know that both of these
variables are not being affected by an
unobserved third (lurking) variable?
• What if there is a genetic
predisposition that causes people to
both get lung cancer and become
addicted to smoking, but the smoking
itself doesn’t CAUSE lung cancer?

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We can evaluate the association using
the following criteria:

• The association is strong.


• The association is consistent.
• Higher doses are associated with
stronger responses.
• Alleged cause precedes the effect.
• The alleged cause is plausible.

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In a Gallup poll, surveyors asked,
“Do you believe correlation implies
causation?’”
64%
Answered YES

38%
Replied No

8% 4
Undecided
CAUSE CAUSAL EFFECT
An explanation for The finding that
some characteristic, change in one variable
attitude, or behavior leads to change in
of groups, individuals, another variable,
other things being
or other entities equal.
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1. Association
Empirical (observed) correlation
between independent and dependent
variables (must vary together)
2. Time Order
Empirical (observed) correlation
between independent and dependent
variables (must vary together)
3. Nonspuriousness
Relationship between independent and
dependent variable not due to third
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variable
4. Mechanism
Process that creates a connection
between variation in an independent
variable and variation in dependent
variable

5. Context
Scientific explanation that includes a
sequence of events that lead to
particular outcome for a specific
individual
Can not be used to explain general
ideas, places, events, or populations 7
• Correlation tells us two variables are related
• Types of relationship reflected in
correlation:
X causes Y or Y causes X (causal relationship)
X and Y are caused by a third variable Z
(spurious relationship)
ADD A FOOTER 8
‘‘The correlation between workers’
education levels and wages is strongly
positive

Does this mean education


“causes” higher wages?

Correlation tells us two variables are


related BUT does not tell us why
‘‘The correlation between workers’
education levels and wages is
strongly positive
• Possibility 1 -Education improves
skills & skilled workers get better
paying jobs

• Possibility 2 -Individuals are born


with quality A, which is relevant for
success in education and on the job
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Kids’ TV Habits
Tied to Lower
IQ Scores
IQ scores and TV time
r = -.54 11
Eating Pizza
‘Cuts Cancer
Risk’
Pizza consumption and
cancer rate 12

r = .-59
Reading Fights
Cavities
Number of cavities in elementary
school children & their
vocabulary size
r = -.67 13
Stop Global
Warming:
Become a Pirate
Average global temperature
and number of pirates
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r = -.93
Implying causation where only
correlation exists
1. A strong relationship between two
variables does not always mean that
changes in one variable causes
changes in the other.
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2. The relationship between two
variables is often influenced by other
variables which are lurking in the
background.
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3. There are two relationships which
can be mistaken for causation:
 Common response
 Confounding
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Possibility that a change in a lurking
variable is causing changes in both 19

explanatory variable and response variable


Both X and Y respond
to changes in some
unobserved variable,
Z.

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Possibility that either
the change in
explanatory variable
is causing changes in
the response variable
That change in a lurking
variable is causing changes
in the response variable. 21
The effect of X on Y is
indistinguishable
from the effects of
other explanatory
variables on Y.

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 When controlled experiments are
performed.
 Unless Data Have Been Gathered By
 Experimental Means and
 Confounding Variables Have Been
Eliminated, 23

 Correlation Never Implies Causation


Objective:
Students will understand the
distinction between correlation
and causation in bivariate data

Pass it on Friday November 23, 2018


(A4 bondpaper, Individual)

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