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Correlational Research Design- Definition, Methods and Examples
Psychology students are often asked to conduct correlational research to obtain a specific outcome related to their field of interest. The correlational research design refers to a relationship between two variables that have nothing to do with any extra venous variable. It is a non-experimental research method in which the researcher has to assess the statistical relationship between the two variables to reach the desired outcome. For example, all of us have memorised the jingle of an ice cream truck. Haven’t we? Louder the jingle, we know how close the truck is. Correlational research is all about finding the connection between the jingle and the arrival of the truck.
What is Correlational Research?
Correlational research is establishing a logical relationship between two variables. In a correlational study, you need to look for variables that have the potential to interact with each other. There are two primary situations when you should use correlational research, such as:
- You think that the two variables have a relationship between them. But, it may involve unethical or impractical methods to manipulate one of the variables.
- You intend to see if there is a relationship between two variables, even if you don't expect them to have a casual relationship with one another.
Now, based on the correlational research definition, there are three types of outcomes that you can get through this method. Each of the following outcomes has unique characteristics.
- Positive correlational
This one includes two variables that are statistically corresponding to each other. However, an increase or decrease in one of the variables causes a change in the other.
- Negative correlational
This method involves two variables that are not statistically corresponding. And an increase in one of the variables causes an alternating effect in the other variable.
- Zero correlational
The two variables in this method may not be statistically connected. And changing one of the variables may not trigger any sort of change in the other.
Now that we know what correlational research is, let’s check out the different methods of conducting this research. If you are a psychology student, chances are you may have to use any of these methods to solve your assignments or projects.
Two Primary Correlational Research Methods
Usually, in correlational research, the researcher is not allowed to manipulate either of the variables. For example, you can observe your participants in a closed room or environment or a public setting. So, you can conduct this research using two primary methods.
- Naturalistic observation
In this method, you have to observe your participant's behaviour in their natural environment or in the surrounding where they typically exist. You can also consider this as field research. This correlational research is most useful for observing people in grocery stores, playgrounds, cinemas, or similar places.
- Surveys and questionnaires
Surveys and questionnaires are two of the simplest ways to determine the relationship between two variables. You can conduct surveys through the mail, phone calls, in person or online. Ask the participants questions related to your variables of interest and analyse the responses after the survey is completed.
Usually, students or even professionals use surveys and questionnaires to conduct correlational research. It is mainly because the second method is quick and flexible. However, you may not get honest or accurate responses every time.
What Are The Most Interesting Examples of Correlational Research?
There are several interesting examples of correlational research that will help you get the hang of this concept better. Say, for instance, you want to determine a relationship between income and vegetarianism. You probably know that income has nothing to with someone’s food habits. However, conducting the research can help you understand all the factors that influence people’s dietary choices. So, you can conduct surveys on people with similar income brackets and ask whether they prefer vegetarian or not.
Other correlational research examples are:
- Let’s assume that you want to know the relationship between a person’s patience and wealth. As far as your personal experience is concerned, you believe that rich people are impatient. However, you still want to prove your belief through a statistical pattern based on the two variables.
- You want to know if people who earn more have more children or not. You do not believe that there can be a connection between earnings and the number of children they have. However, you carry out correlational research to reveal any correlational research that may exist between these two variables.
One of the simplest correlational research examples in education
You want to determine or establish the fact that students who read more books score higher at the end of the year than students who don’t read as such. So, you can conduct correlational research between reading books and test scores and show how strongly these variables are related.
Correlational research is not the same as causation. You can find out if there is a relationship between two variables through this research. But, you can’t prove one variable WILL change another. For example, you can show that there is a correlational connection between self-esteem and academic success. But, you can’t use the same research design to prove that academic success can change self-esteem or vice versa.
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