Correlation or Causation:  Sample Test Questions


Q1. A study found that if physicians asked four questions of patients they could identify patients at risk for suicide. Specifically, the researchers found that probing for evidence of sleep disturbance, guilt, depression, and feelings of hopelessness among all patients worked better in detecting those at risk of suicide than asking only patients who appear to have major psychiatric disorders about suicidal thoughts.

a) In the above study, did the researchers find a correlation between the amount of sleep disturbance, guilt, depression, and feelings of hopelessness and risk of suicide, or did they find a causal relationship between these variables and risk of suicide, neither or both? Explain.

 

b) Of the four goals of science, which, if any, were addressed by the above research? Explain.


 Q2.  "Young boys (age 6) exhibiting a cluster of extreme personality traits, including impulsiveness, excitability, and lack of fear in new situations, are most likely to use both legal and illicit drugs in their early teens."

a) Does this research describe a correlation or a causal relationship?   Explain.

b) If you said it described a correlation, change the wording so it describes a causal relationship.  If you said it describes a causal relationship, change the wording so it only describes a correlation.


Q3. "Historical data show that the candidate who raises the most money before the primary season starts generally wins the nomination."  What kind of relationship, if any, does the quote describe?   Explain.

If a correlation exists between two variables, is there also a causal relationship between those two variables?  Explain.

If a causal relationship exists between two variables, is there also a correlation between those two variables?  Explain.