Correlation or Causation?


as of September 1, 2014

 

Headlines of Public Press Articles

 

Assignment Ideas
for These Resources

 

Lack of sleep may shrink your brain

Low self-esteem "shrinks brain"

To spoon or not to spoon? After-sex affection boosts sexual and relationship satisfaction

Why you should talk to your baby

Study suggests Southern slavery turns White people into Republicans 150 years later

Early language skills reduce preschool tantrums, study finds

This is your brain on exercise

Brain scans of hoarders reveal why they never de-clutter

Teenage sex "leads to bad moods" in later life

Dogs walked by men are more aggressive

Studies show exercise reduces dementia risk

Religious experiences shrink part of the brain

Prevent Alzheimer's? No evidence you can: Panel

Straight A's in high school may mean better health later in life

Eating brown rice to cut diabetes risk

Murder rates affect IQ tests scores: Study

Want a higher G.P.A.? Go to a private college

Sincere smiling promotes longevity

Happiness wards off heart disease, study suggests

Interactive animations give science students a boost

OMG! Texting and IM-ing doesn't affect spelling!

Cards "can support mentally ill"

Building more latrines: Peer pressure better than financial assistance

Sugar rush... to prison? Study says lots of candy could lead to violence

Which high school students are most likely to graduate from college?

Does alcohol blur cues?

Link between over-indebtedness and obesity identified

In study, texting lifts crash risk by large margin

Caffeine reverses memory impairment in mice with Alzheimer's symptoms

People with higher IQs make wiser economic choices, study finds

Recession causes increase in teen dating violence

Daily school recess improves classroom behavior

Exposure to two languages carries far-reaching benefits

Facebook users get worse grades in college

Texting "improves language skill"

versus Txtng associated wiv superior reading skills

Cell phones disrupt teens' sleep

Study suggests attending religious services sharply cuts risk of death

Church attendance boosts immunity

Fan in room seems to cut infants' risk of crib death

Sexism pays: Men who hold traditional views of women earn more than men who don't, study says

Breast implants lower cancer risks but boost suicides

Migraine often associated with psychiatric disorders

Venting emotions after trauma predicts worse outcomes

Board-certified teachers boost student scores

Keeping a food diary doubles diet weight loss, study suggests

Loud bar equals more beer

Eating fatty fish lowers risk of dementia

Feds: Teen use of pot can lead to dependency, mental illness

Breast-fed children found smarter

Mother's diet can help determine sex of child: study

Suds seem to skew scientific success

Bullying harms kids' mental health: Study

Don't be a Super Bowl statistic: Stress of watching the big game can be hazardous to heart, research suggests

(unless your team wins) Winning World Cup lowers heart attack deaths

Family meals curb teen eating disorders

Beta carotene supplements slow down cognitive decline

TV raises blood pressure in obese kids: Study

Social isolation may have a negative effect on intellectual abilities

Consistent, frequent TV viewing causes behavior problems

Height affects how people perceive their quality of life

Deep voiced men "have more kids"

Tooth loss in elderly linked to mental impairment

Does your neighbourhood cause schizophrenia?

Involving parents in therapy doubles success rates for bulimia treatment

"Genius" videos may hinder baby development: Study

More math helps young scientists

Obese girls less likely to attend college, research shows

Crying over spilled semen: Why women who don't use condoms feel happier

Your parents are correct, scholars report: Studying pays off

Credit cards can make you fat

Pill changes women's taste in men

Why we give in to temptation

A surprising secret to a long life: Stay in school

Surgeons with video game skill appear to perform better in simulated surgery skills course

Housework cuts breast cancer risk

Reading diet articles could be unhealthy

Intelligent children more likely to become vegetarian

Fear of hell makes us richer, Fed says

Chocolate really does make us feel better

Success a family affair? Willingness to take risks and trust others are inherited, study suggests

Appalachians triggered ancient ice age

Sex drive stays in gear with antidepressant bupropion

Students prosper with Montessori method

Music lessons improve kids' brain development, memory: study

Wearing a helmet puts cyclists at risk, suggests research

Washing hands reduces moral taint

Disciplinarian parents have fat kids

Jabs link to autism "dispelled"

Snooze or lose: Memory retention enhanced by sleep

Did violent media make Alvaro Castillo kill his father?

Sexual lyrics prompt teens to have sex (actual study)

Does watching sex on television influence teens' sexual activity?

Sex cues ruin men's decisiveness

Sex "cuts public speaking stress"

Spouses' ills imperil partners' survival

Child anxiety link to ecstasy use

Anorexia largely determined by heredity

Soda causes obesity, researchers assert

Political bias affects brain activity, study finds

More creative = more sexually active?

Spanking children fuels aggression, anxiety

Stop global warming: Become a pirate

Eating breakfast makes girls thinner

Kids' TV habits tied to poorer test scores ; TV -- any TV -- harms toddlers, study claims

ADHD treatment improves teens' grades, confidence

Eating pizza "cuts cancer risk"

Graffiti linked to obesity in city dwellers ; Researchers find no obesity, sprawl link

Breastfeeding fights arthritis

Walking may ward off Alzheimer's

Before the booze: Cactus extract dulls hangovers

Study links TV to teen sexual activity

Height doesn't influence kids' popularity: Study

Luckiest people "born in summer"

Watching TV "is bad for children"

Teen drug use linked to truancy

Eat sweets, live longer

Microbe linked to Alzheimer's Disease

Cancer drug helps paralyzed mice walk

Counseling boosts immunity, improves health habits

Video Games "Increase Aggression"

Higher beer prices "cut" gonorrhoea rates

Black people six times more likely to be jailed than whites (in UK)

Sample Test Questions on this Topic

Constipation Might Signal Parkinson's

Early unsolicited sexual encounters lead to life of crime

"Wash your hands" signs only work for women

Eating fish prevents crime

 

Related Resources

Correlational graph

Prudential commercial - if we do this then we will live longer

"Voodoo correlations in social neuroscience"

Alan & Bo's Correlation & Causality Blog

"New Poll Shows Correlation is Causation"

Correlation/Causation cartoon

Correlation/Causation cartoon

Correlation/Causation cartoon

Correlation/Causation cartoon

Correlation/Causation cartoon

 

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 jfmueller@noctrl.edu.

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