Cause and Correlation
What is Cause?
1. to be the cause of; bring about; precipitate; be the reason
2. .a person or thing that acts, happens, or exists in such a way that some
specific thing happens as a result; the producer of an effect: You have been
the cause of much anxiety. What was the cause of the accident?
3. the reason or motive for some human action: The good news
was a cause for rejoicing.
Synonyms: consideration, explanation, stimulation, precipitate,
antecedent, foundation, inducement (dictionary.com)
What’s an Example of Cause?
A bicyclist moves into the traffic lane in order to pass a truck
illegally parked in the bike lane. The driver of a car approaching
from the rear slams on her brakes in order to avoid hitting the
bicycle. A following car fails to stop in time, and smashes into
the back of the first. The insurance companies disagree about
who should be held responsible, and they go to court to decide
who caused the accident.
What arguments are likely to be made in court?
The bicyclist's lawyer will probably claim that the illegally parked truck
caused her client to swerve into the lane of traffic.
The lawyer for the driver of the first car will probably claim that the
bicyclist's actions caused her client to slam on the brakes.
The lawyer for the second driver will probably claim that the first car's
sudden stop caused his client to smash into its back.
(From “Introduction to Causal Arguments,” www.sjsu.edu)
What is Correlation?
1.mutual relation of two or more things, parts, etc.
2.Statistics. the degree to which two or more attributes or
measurements on the same group of elements show a tendency
to vary together.
3.Physiology. the interdependence or reciprocal relations of
organs or functions.
Synonyms: correspondence, relationship, counterpart, interaction, interchange,
Examples of Correlations
Here are some examples of positive correlations:
1. SAT scores and college achievement—among college students, those with
higher SAT scores also have higher grades
2. Happiness and helpfulness—as people’s happiness level increases, so does
their helpfulness (conversely, as people’s happiness level decreases, so does their
Here are some Negative Correlations:
1. Education and years in jail— people who have more years of education tend to
have fewer years in jail (or phrased as people with more years in jail tend to have
fewer years of education)
2. Crying and being held— among babies, those who are held more tend to cry
less (or phrased as babies who are held less tend to cry more)
(From “Correlation,” www.nvcc.edu)
What’s the Difference between
Cause and Correlation?
Main Difference: The strength and degree of the relationship
“Cause” means action will always have a “predictable reason.”
Stubbing your toe causes you to flinch.
Lightning causes thunder.
“Correlation” means that one thing doesn’t necessarily result
in the other thing occurring, but it may increase likelihood
that something will occur.
Facebook users get worse grades in college.
Cell phones disrupt teens’ sleep.
“Violent Video Games Cause Violent Behavior”
Not True! There is a “correlation” between violence and video games.
Influences of violent behavior include: poorer socioeconomic status, mental
illness, abusive childhoods, and bad parenting.
In order to make the above statement, you’d have to be able to prove
that everyone who ever played a violent video game subsequently
exhibited violent behavior.
Such games may influence others to act in more aggressive ways but
they are not the sole factor and sometimes not even a factor for
Thus there’s a correlation there, which should be considered, but there is no
What is Cause?
What is Correlation?
What is negative and positive correlation?
What are some causes that connect with your social issue for Paper III?
What are some correlations that connect with your social issue for Paper III?