Correlation: Strength of Relationship between Quantitative Variables

High Correlation does not Indicate Cause and Effect

The correlation is a measure of the co-variability of variables. It is used to measure the strength between two quantitative variables. It also tells the direction of a relationship between the variables. The positive value of the correlation coefficient indicates that there is a direct (supportive or positive) relationship between the variables while the negative value indicates there is negative (opposite or indirect) relationship between the variables.

degree of relationship

By definition, the correlation is interdependence between two quantitative variables. The causation (known as) cause and effect, is when an observed event or action appears to have caused a second event or action. Therefore, It does not necessarily imply any functional relationship between variables concerned. Correlation theory does not establish any causal relationship between the variables as it is interdependence between the variables. Knowledge of the value of the coefficient of correlation r alone will not enable us to predict the value of Y from X.

Sometimes there is the high correlation between unrelated variable such as the number of births and numbers of murders in a country. This is a spurious correlation.

For example, suppose there is a positive correlation between watching violent movies and violent behavior in adolescence. The cause of both these could be a third variable (extraneous variable) say, growing up in a violent environment which causes the adolescence to watch violence related movies and to have violent behavior.

Other Examples

  • The number of absences from class lecture decreases the grades.
  • As the weather gets colder, air conditioning costs decrease.
  • As the speed of the train (car, bus, or any other vehicle) is increased the length of time to get to the final point will also decrease.
  • As the age of a chicken increases the number of eggs it produces also decreases.

Muhammad Imdad Ullah

Currently working as Assistant Professor of Statistics in Ghazi University, Dera Ghazi Khan. Completed my Ph.D. in Statistics from the Department of Statistics, Bahauddin Zakariya University, Multan, Pakistan. l like Applied Statistics, Mathematics, and Statistical Computing. Statistical and Mathematical software used is SAS, STATA, GRETL, EVIEWS, R, SPSS, VBA in MS-Excel. Like to use type-setting LaTeX for composing Articles, thesis, etc.

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