Research and Stats

Episode 109: Correlation and Causation

Delving into Correlation and Causation

Ever wondered about the relationship between correlation and causation? You’re not alone. This widely quoted saying “correlation doesn’t mean causation” has left many scratching their heads. But fret not, we’re here to simplify this complex concept.

Understanding Through Humor In an amusing approach, The Psych Files presented a “Breaking News” segment. This segment delved into questions like whether satisfied workers are more productive or if cohabitation can lead to divorce. Through these humorous examples, the segment made it clear that just because two things happen simultaneously doesn’t mean one caused the other.

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.

The Trap of Over-association Humans have an innate tendency to spot patterns and links. However, we must be cautious. Sometimes, a hidden third factor might give the illusion that two unrelated things are interconnected. It’s essential to critically analyze before jumping to conclusions.

In conclusion, while our minds are brilliant at identifying patterns, it’s crucial to discern between mere coincidences and actual causative relationships. If this topic intrigues you, make sure to delve deeper in this episode. It promises to provide a deeper understanding, ensuring you won’t mix correlation with causation again!




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  1. Avatar


    November 10, 2009

    This was amazing and I learned a lot from the video!!!:)

  2. Weekly Wisdom Roundup #53 | The Weekly Roundup

    November 10, 2009

    […] Correlation and Causation – Via Psych Files – 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 of The Psych Files. […]

  3. Ep 194: What Do I/0 Psychologists Really Do? Testing and Evaluation | The Psych Files Podcast

    November 10, 2009

    […] course, understanding the strengths and weaknesses of correlations is vital to the I/O psychologists and in this example I use tricky topic of what creates job […]

  4. Avatar


    November 10, 2009

    Interesting information….

  5. Avatar

    Lisa Richmond

    November 10, 2009

    I’m a little behind, and recently listened to”Even Children do Statistics.”
    As a Special Ed teacher, I think it would be interesting to see how kiddos on
    the Autistic spectrum (including Asperger’s) would respond to the tasks in the
    study, as we know that perspective-taking can be difficult.

    On an unrelated-ish note, I’ve really enjoyed the podcasts that touch upon confirmation
    bias. I wonder how it relates to different trendy self-help techniques, ala “The Secret” or the idea that writing goals on sticky notes and posting then will help you fulfill those goals (I’m highly skeptical about the effectiveness of these strategies, but can’t really articulate why).

  6. Avatar


    November 10, 2009

    This was good!

    I love it 🙂

  7. Find Something Already Made! | Lore's Blog

    November 10, 2009

    […] podcasts and some videos. I found a new podcast that I liked and will add it to my online class: when we discuss reseach methods and talk about correlation versus causation. Since this topic is […]

  8. Avatar

    Lisa Richmond

    November 10, 2009

    Asked a pianist friend – it’s Chopin’s B Minor Waltz (no. 10)… just in case anyone beside me was plagued with curiosity 🙂 Thanks, Michael!

  9. Avatar


    November 10, 2009

    Lisa: glad you liked the episode. To tell the truth I don’t know the name of the music. I found it on some podsafe music site. It does sound familiar though….

  10. Avatar

    Lisa Richmond

    November 10, 2009

    Enjoyed the episode! On an unrelated note, what was the name of the classical song in and throughout the video? I know it, but can’t place the composer.

  11. Folens Psychology - Blog » Blog Archive » Correlation & Causation

    November 10, 2009

    […] A02 point get the humorous podcast treatment here at the ever entertaining Psychfiles site. Share and enjoy: These icons link to social […]

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