Monday, July 20, 2015

"Correlation is not causation", Parts 1 and 2

Jethro Waters, Dan Peterson, Ph.D., Laurie McCollough, and Luke Norton made a pair of animated videos (1, 2) that explain why correlation does not equal causation and how we can perform lab research in order to determine if causal relationships exist.

I like them a bunch. Specific points worth liking:

-Illustrations of scatter plots for significant and non-significant relationships.

Data does not support the old wive's tale that everyone goes a little crazy during full moons.

-Explains the Third Variable problem.
Simple, pretty illustration of the perennial correlation example of ice cream sales (X):death by drowning (Y) relationship, and the third variable, hot weather (Z) that drives the relationship.
-In addition to discussing correlation =/= causation, the video makes suggestions for studying a correlational relationship via more rigorous research methods (here violent video games:violent behavior).
Video games (X) influence aggression (Y) via the moderator of personality (Z)


In order to test the video game hypothesis without using diary/retrospective data collection, the video describes how one might design a research study to test this hypothesis.

-Finally, at the end of  the video, they provide citations to the research used in the video. You could take this example a step further and have your students look at the source research.

Special thanks to Rajiv Jhangiani for introducing me to this resource!

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