10th International
Conference on
Teaching Statistics
8 – 13 July 2018
Kyoto, Japan
Contributed paper list

Contributed Paper C282

In session C7C  (Wednesday 11th, 9:30-10:30,   Level 2 - Seminar Room 3)

Practical use of correlation coefficients in the Social Sciences


Oscar Hernandez (University of Costa Rica, Costa Rica)
Russell Alpizar-Jara (University of Evora, Portugal)


Oscar Hernandez (Costa Rica)


The Pearson correlation coefficient (r) is usually the first measure of association taught at elementary statistics courses. The usual presentation includes scatterplots, computation and interpretation of r, properties, examples, and warnings about inferring causality from high association between two variables. On this last aspect, few introductory textbooks go deeper into the criteria for establishing causation, and there is a lack of convincing examples in the area of the Social Sciences. Although some textbooks give adequate explanations, most of their examples belong to the field of Biostatistics. There is a need to incorporate convincing cases of the practical use of correlation as supporting evidence of causal relationships in the Social Sciences. We contribute with two examples that could be useful for teaching purposes.

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