Correlation or Causation?
To the left are links to popular press articles regarding a variety of research studies and their results. The text in the links (e.g. "Pill changes women's taste in men") is the actual headline of those popular press articles. Some of the headlines suggest a causal relationship between two variables, and some simply suggest a correlation between two variables. Unfortunately, the headlines of articles in the popular media often misrepresent the research on which they are based. Many of the headlines to the left suggest causal relationships when, upon closer reading of the article itself, one finds that the research was correlational in nature, and the headline is not justified.
So, I (Jon Mueller) use this resource in a variety of ways to help my students identify the language of causal relationships and correlations, identify the tell-tale signs that an experiment or a correlational study is being described in the media when there
is no mention of the type of study, and to learn how to evaluate the quality and nature of evidence in judging the merit of a claim. Below are a few assignments that can be used with this resource. If you think of or develop any other such assignments I would love to hear about them. Just send me a note or example at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Causal or correlational language? by Maria Vita
Analyze the Conversation by John Norland (Although this assignment does not use the links on this page, it provides a very good activity for considering correlation and causation.)
Headline Writing Analysis by Bill Zachry
Causality Assignment by Tim Robicheaux
Assignment 12 by Jon Mueller
Causal and Non-causal Language by Heather Coon
Headline Match Game by Jon Mueller Source: jfmueller.faculty.noctrl.edu