Looking for examples of correlation and causation? You’ve heard it a million times: correlation doesn’t mean causation. Still need help? Well, here’s a humorous look at this topic that I think drives home the point. The Psych Files “Breaking News” explores whether satisfied workers are more productive and whether living together causes divorce. I hope you enjoy this unique video episode on the topic of correlations.
The Phases of the Moon and Admissions to Mental Hospitals
This meta-analysis, published in 1985 in the journal Psychological Bulletin, found very few statistically significant relationships between the moon and human behavior.
Those studies that do find links, Rotton and Kelly said, are inaccurate, either because they don’t take important factors into account (that are responsible for the “lunacy”) or they mistake chance events as proof of a lunar effect. from, “‘Supermoon’ Lunacy: Does the Moon Make Us Crazy?“
A popular correlation that is wrong is this effect of phases of the moon on mood. Research has shown that there is no relationship. The moon is just too far away to affect our individual moods and there is no data that admissions to mental health facilities increase during the phases of the moon.
You have to keep your eye out for a subtle, often unseen 3rd factor that could be causing the two things you’re looking at to appear to be related. This may require a little brainstorming on your part. Humans are “hardwired” to see relationships between all sorts of events. We’re often wrong though.