A definition and exemplification of correlational research
What is Correlational Research?
Correlational research is a quantitative form of empirical study which is concerned with correlations. It aims to find out whether there is a linear relationship between two distinct numerical variables. Some correlations that we commonly observe in reality include temperature and the time it takes for food to spoil (the higher the former, the lower the latter – a negative correlation), or the level of a country’s development and the life expectancy of its inhabitants (rises in one typically corresponding with the other – positive correlation). Within academic disciplines like Sociology, correlational research might take place when trying to establish or test links between, for example:
-The level of a person’s religiosity and their frequency of participation in social events
-The number of families living in different areas, and those areas’ crime rates
-The size of an online forum’s memberbase, and the degree of deviancy or social acceptance in the topics it typically discusses
So long as the two variables are quantifiable or measurable in some way, there is a possibility of correlation which the research methodology can aim to detect. The exact strength of a correlation in the results which are obtained is known as the correlational coefficient and is represented by a + or – sign and a number, denoting whether the correlation is positive or negative and how significant it is. If the coefficient amounts to 0, then there is no correlation reflected in the results.
Some specific methods whereby correlational research may be carried out include surveys, questionnaires and observational experiments.