# Spurious Correlations And Extraneous Variables

Spurious Correlations And Extraneous Variables

In , a spurious relationship or spurious correlation is a  in which two or more events or variables are  but  , due to either coincidence or the presence of a certain third, unseen factor (referred to as a “common response variable”, “confounding factor”, or ““).

Assignment: Spurious Correlations And Extraneous Variables

Correlational research describes relations among variables but cannot indicate that one variable causes something to occur to another variable. Rather, a statistically significant correlation coefficient simply indicates there is a relation among a predictor variable and an outcome variable.

In correlational research, if there is a statistically significant correlation coefficient between two variables, you want to know that the relation truly exists. This goal is challenging to achieve because other variables that you are not studying may complicate the study and the interpretation of the results.

You may find a spurious relation in which one common causal variable, sometimes referred to as a third variable, is responsible for the observed relation between the predictor variable and the outcome variable. Imagine seeing a news story reporting the findings of a study claiming that children under the age of 17 who viewed R-rated movies showed a greater likelihood of developing a smoking habit. A third variable that could explain both the predictor and outcome variables is permissive parenting. Permissive parents may allow children to view R-rated movies when they are under the age of 17. In addition, permissive parents may not attend to their children’s whereabouts enough to be aware of their smoking habit, or they may not discipline the children for smoking. Therefore, in effect, you cannot conclude that the movie viewing caused the smoking habit. The permissive parenting may have led to the children’s movie viewing habit and their smoking habit.

You may also identify extraneous variables that might influence the outcome variable but, unlike the spurious correlation described above, these variables do not relate to or influence the predictor variable. For example, consider a reported correlation that the number of books in a person’s home (predictor variable) is related to their college GPA (outcome). An extraneous variable could be, for example, a person’s IQ (intelligence quotient) score. The higher IQ might be related to higher college GPA but not necessarily related to the number of books found in a person’s home. There are additional examples of spurious relations and extraneous variables on pages 174–176 of your course text.

In this Discussion, you focus primarily on spurious relations and extraneous variables. After reviewing examples in the course text, you will find your own examples in the media and explain how they might affect the relations between the variables under consideration.

To prepare for Assignment: Spurious Correlations And Extraneous Variables:

• Review popular online newspapers and/or online magazines to look for articles on research studies. Look for examples of statements and claims that might reflect a spurious correlation or an extraneous variable.Note: This is not a library assignment, nor should you look for articles that already have reported a spurious relation or extraneous variable. You need to make this connection yourself. For instance, you might see a headline in a news magazine that states something like “Fast-Paced Children’s Television Programming Linked to ADHD.” Look for examples like this.
• Identify one popular media example of a correlation that could be argued to be a spurious correlation or that illustrates a correlation that may have an extraneous variable.

With these thoughts in mind:

Post by Day 3 of Assignment: Spurious Correlations And Extraneous Variables:

• Briefly explain the example and the claim that has been made.
• Identify the predictor variable and the outcome variable.
• Identify the correlation. Is it a positive or negative correlation? How did you determine this to be the case?
• Identify your proposed spurious (third) variable or extraneous variable.
• Explain the connection you made among the spurious/extraneous variable and the outcome and predictor variables.
• Post the URLs for the media example at the end of your posting.

Note: Be sure to support the responses within your Discussion post, and in your colleague reply, with evidence from the assigned Learning Resources.

Discussion Questions (DQ)

• Initial responses to the DQ should address all components of the questions asked, include a minimum of one scholarly source, and be at least 250 words.
• Successful responses are substantive (i.e., add something new to the discussion, engage others in the discussion, well-developed idea) and include at least one scholarly source.
• One or two sentence responses, simple statements of agreement or “good post,” and responses that are off-topic will not count as substantive. Substantive responses should be at least 150 words.
• I encourage you to incorporate the readings from the week (as applicable) into your responses.

Weekly Participation

• Your initial responses to the mandatory DQ do not count toward participation and are graded separately.
• In addition to the DQ responses, you must post at least one reply to peers (or me) on three separate days, for a total of three replies.
• Participation posts do not require a scholarly source/citation (unless you cite someone else’s work).
• Part of your weekly participation includes viewing the weekly announcement and attesting to watching it in the comments. These announcements are made to ensure you understand everything that is due during the week.

APA Format and Writing Quality

• Familiarize yourself with APA format and practice using it correctly. It is used for most writing assignments for your degree. Visit the Writing Center in the Student Success Center, under the Resources tab in LoudCloud for APA paper templates, citation examples, tips, etc. Points will be deducted for poor use of APA format or absence of APA format (if required).
• Cite all sources of information! When in doubt, cite the source. Paraphrasing also requires a citation.
• I highly recommend using the APA Publication Manual, 6th edition.

Use of Direct Quotes

• I discourage overutilization of direct quotes in DQs and assignments at the Masters’ level and deduct points accordingly.
• As Masters’ level students, it is important that you be able to critically analyze and interpret information from journal articles and other resources. Simply restating someone else’s words does not demonstrate an understanding of the content or critical analysis of the content.
• It is best to paraphrase content and cite your source.

LopesWrite Policy

• For assignments that need to be submitted to LopesWrite, please be sure you have received your report and Similarity Index (SI) percentage BEFORE you do a “final submit” to me.
• Once you have received your report, please review it. This report will show you grammatical, punctuation, and spelling errors that can easily be fixed. Take the extra few minutes to review instead of getting counted off for these mistakes.
• Review your similarities. Did you forget to cite something? Did you not paraphrase well enough? Is your paper made up of someone else’s thoughts more than your own?
• Visit the Writing Center in the Student Success Center, under the Resources tab in LoudCloud for tips on improving your paper and SI score.

Late Policy

• The university’s policy on late assignments is 10% penalty PER DAY LATE. This also applies to late DQ replies.
• Please communicate with me if you anticipate having to submit an assignment late. I am happy to be flexible, with advance notice. We may be able to work out an extension based on extenuating circumstances.
• If you do not communicate with me before submitting an assignment late, the GCU late policy will be in effect.
• I do not accept assignments that are two or more weeks late unless we have worked out an extension.
• As per policy, no assignments are accepted after the last day of class. Any assignment submitted after midnight on the last day of class will not be accepted for grading.

Communication

• Communication is so very important. There are multiple ways to communicate with me:
• Questions to Instructor Forum: This is a great place to ask course content or assignment questions. If you have a question, there is a good chance one of your peers does as well. This is a public forum for the class.
• Individual Forum: This is a private forum to ask me questions or send me messages. This will be checked at least once every 24 hours.

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