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What is Correlational Study & Research? – Definition, Types, and Methods


What is Correlational Study & Research? – Definition, Types, and Methods

Correlational Study Definition

What is a correlational study?

There could be many correlational study definitions but, I am going to tell you a simple one. The correlational study is the study of the relationship between two variables.

What does that mean? It simply means that a correlational study is used to determine that 2 things are related to each other in such a way that, if the change in one thing causes a change in the other. The relationship can either be positive, negative, or no-relation at all.

There can be two or more variables in correlational research depending on the research question. And, The Cause and effect relationship between two variables is a crucial element to consider.

If we take an example of a train, as the train approaches the sound of the whistle start getting loud. People who live nearby the stations usually calculate the distance by the pitch of the whistle. The human mind becomes so habitual of this practice that they can even calculate the time in which the train will come to the station.

In this example, people are considering two variables, the loudness of the whistle and the distance of the train. The change in one variable can tell you the change in the other variable.

Correlational Study Example

Correlational Study Example

Characteristics of correlational research study

Correlational research has three main characteristics.

Non-experimental research study:

Correlational research study is always non-experimental. To observe the natural behavior the researcher does not need to manipulate or influence the behavior of the research subject.

In more technical language, the researcher does not need to manipulate the variables or agree or disagree to any hypothesis or without subjecting to external influence.

Backward-looking or Historical data search:

Correlational research study always looks back at the historical data to observe the variables and the related events. Researchers use this Correlation study method to understand and observe the trend and nature of the relationship between variables.

This can also help to spot if any kind of change occurred in the relationship of the variables like positive relationship becoming negative or negative relation becoming positive.

Dynamic/changing relation:

Nothing is permanent except change; the relationship between correlational study variables is always changing.  The negative relation between two variables can become positive in the future.

Definition Correlational Study

Definition Correlational Study

Types of Correlation research study:

There are mainly three types of correlational research study or correlational research design.

Positive Correlational study:

The positive correlational study denotes the positive relationship between two variables. In positive correlation, one increase in the value of one variable causes an increase in the value of the other. This is called the positive correlation.

Consider a simple example; the more we eat the more weight we gain. This is the simplest example of the positive correlation between 2 variables which are: eating and body weight.

Negative Correlation:

The negative correlation denotes a negative relationship between 2 variables. In negative correlation change either positive or negative cause inverse effect on the other variable.

For example, the speed and the time, if speed is increased the time to reach a certain destination decreases. On the other hand, if we decrease the speed the time to reach that destination will increase.

No Correlation:

This type of correlation is quite simple; it denotes that there is no relation between the variables. Or simply, the change in one variable does not necessarily cause a change in the other variable.

What Is A Correlational Study

What Is A Correlational Study

How to Conduct Correlational Research Study?

There are 3 methods of correlational research study through which the researchers conduct correlation study. With these correlational research examples you can easily understand the methods.

Naturalistic observation:

Naturalistic observation is a method correlation study where research is conducted in the natural environment. This can also be called the field method. The research can be conducted at a grocery store, jogging park, or any public place.

This method is useful when the researcher anonymously observes people in their natural environment.

This method is ethically accepted as long as the research is conducted in a public place where normally do not expect complete privacy. This study can be qualitative or qualitative.

Survey Method:

correlational study survey is the most common method used for psychological, social, or any kind of research study. The survey method contains questions related to a particular topic, social practice, economic policies, administrative system, psychology research topics, psychology survey topics, or any variables of interest.

The survey could contain the fundamental question addressed by the correlational study method.

Let’s take an example of the education system of a country whether the students are satisfied with the courses and the education system?

The survey would contain questions regarding the education system if it is capable of grooming students for the future competition or not. A list of questions will give to students and answers will tell the researcher whether the education system is satisfying or not.

Archival method:

This one is a simple method in which the researcher collects information from previously collected information and records in form of research papers. Unlike naturalistic research study, this correlation study method is easy and straight forward.

These are the 3 types of correlational study research that are primarily used.

Correlational Study

Correlational Study

Limitations of Correlations study:

You might have heard that a correlational study can suggest that there is a relationship either positive or negative exists between two variables, but it cannot prove that the change in one variable will change the other.

For example, the researchers conducting a correlational study that proposes that there is a relationship between success in academic life and the self-esteem of a person. However, this correlation study cannot necessarily prove that academic success will change the self-esteem of that person.


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