Episode 109: Correlation and Causation

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Looking for examples of correlation and causation? You’ve heard it a million times: correlation doesn’t mean causation. Still need help? Well, here’s a humorous look at this topic that I think drives home the point. The Psych Files "Breaking News" explores whether satisfied workers are more productive and whether living together causes divorce. I hope you enjoy this unique video episode on the topic of correlations.

The Phases of the Moon and Admissions to Mental Hospitals

This meta-analysis, published in 1985 in the journal Psychological Bulletin, found very few statistically significant relationships between the moon and human behavior.

Those studies that do find links, Rotton and Kelly said, are inaccurate, either because they don’t take important factors into account (that are responsible for the “lunacy”) or they mistake chance events as proof of a lunar effect. from, “‘Supermoon’ Lunacy: Does the Moon Make Us Crazy?

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A popular correlation that is wrong is this effect of phases of the moon on mood. Research has shown that there is no relationship. The moon is just too far away to affect our individual moods and there is no data that admissions to mental health facilities increase during the phases of the moon.
Examples of Correlation and Causation
You have to keep your eye out for a subtle, often unseen 3rd factor that could be causing the two things you’re looking at to appear to be related. This may require a little brainstorming on your part. Humans are “hardwired” to see relationships between all sorts of events. We’re often wrong though.


Comments

  1. Lisa Richmond says:

    Enjoyed the episode! On an unrelated note, what was the name of the classical song in and throughout the video? I know it, but can’t place the composer.

  2. Michael says:

    Lisa: glad you liked the episode. To tell the truth I don’t know the name of the music. I found it on some podsafe music site. It does sound familiar though….

  3. Lisa Richmond says:

    Asked a pianist friend – it’s Chopin’s B Minor Waltz (no. 10)… just in case anyone beside me was plagued with curiosity :-) Thanks, Michael!

  4. This was good!

    I love it :)

  5. Lisa Richmond says:

    I’m a little behind, and recently listened to”Even Children do Statistics.”
    As a Special Ed teacher, I think it would be interesting to see how kiddos on
    the Autistic spectrum (including Asperger’s) would respond to the tasks in the
    study, as we know that perspective-taking can be difficult.

    On an unrelated-ish note, I’ve really enjoyed the podcasts that touch upon confirmation
    bias. I wonder how it relates to different trendy self-help techniques, ala “The Secret” or the idea that writing goals on sticky notes and posting then will help you fulfill those goals (I’m highly skeptical about the effectiveness of these strategies, but can’t really articulate why).

  6. QUENLI CAMACHO says:

    Interesting information….

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  4. [...] Correlation and Causation – Via Psych Files – Looking for examples of correlation and causation? You’ve heard it a million times: correlation doesn’t mean causation. Still need help? Well, here’s a humorous look at this topic that I think drives home the point. The Psych Files “Breaking News” explores whether satisfied workers are more productive and whether living together causes divorce. I hope you enjoy this unique video episode of The Psych Files. [...]

  5. [...] Correlation and Causation – Via Psych Files – Looking for examples of correlation and causation? You’ve heard it a million times: correlation doesn’t mean causation. Still need help? Well, here’s a humorous look at this topic that I think drives home the point. The Psych Files “Breaking News” explores whether satisfied workers are more productive and whether living together causes divorce. I hope you enjoy this unique video episode of The Psych Files. [...]

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