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Association and Correlation

A bivariate table tells you the relationship between two variables. It does not show whether one
variable causes the other, because some other factor might not be taken into account. Before any other
assumptions are made, it is best to first understand the association between variables.

ASSOCIATION – two variables are said to be associated if the distributions of the categories/scores of
one of them changes under the various categories/scores of the other.

MEASURES OF ASSOCIATION – indicate in quantitative terms, the extent to which a change in the value
of one variable is related to a change in the value of the other.
Examples: Phi, Cramer’s V, Lambda, Gamma, Spearman’s rho, Pearson’s r


1. Does an association exist?

2. How strong is the association?
a. 0.00 – no relationship
b. 0.01-0.19 – very weak relationship
c. 0.20-0.39 – weak relationship
d. 0.40-0.59 – moderate relationship
e. 0.60-0.79 – strong relationship
f. 0.80-0.99 – very strong relationship
g. 1.00 – perfect relationship
3. What is the pattern and/or the direction of the association?
a. Positive
b. Negative


Perfect positive relationship Perfect negative relationship No correlation (independence)

SPURIOUSNESS – an association is said to be spurious if a third variable is proven to be affecting the


CORRELATION – a correlation is the measure of an association; a measure of the degree of fit between
actual scores for a dependent variable and the scores predicted on the basis of regression.

PEARSON’S r – a measure of association based on least-squares deviations from a regression line; it is

the degree of scatter around the regression line.
CAUSALITY – a relationship is said to be causal when the presence of the independent variable causes
the occurrence of the dependent variable.


1. A change in the independent variable must precede (in time) a change in the dependent
2. There must be a high correlation between the independent and dependent variables.
3. Other competing variables must be shown to have little influence on the dependent variable.

REGRESSION – a prediction of scores/values of a given dependent variable, based on the scores of one
or more independent variables.

REGRESSION ANALYSIS – a method of determining the specific function of Y for every X; represents the
relationship between variables in the form of equations, which can be used to predict the values
of a dependent variable on the basis of the values of the independent variable.

LINEAR REGRESSION ANALYSIS – a form of statistical analysis that seeks the equation for the straight line
that best describes the relationship between the two variables.

Y = a + bX; where a = Y when X = 0

PARAMETRIC TESTS OF SIGNIFICANCE – statistics that make certain assumptions about the parameters
describing the population from which the sample is selected.

STATISTICAL SIGNIFICANCE – a general term referring to the likelihood that relationships observed in a
sample could be attributed to sampling error alone.

Additional references:

Babbie, E. (2007). The Practice of Social Research (11th ed.). California: Thomson Wadsworth.

Goode, W.J. (1952). Methods in Social Research. Tokyo: Kogakusha Co., Ltd.