Archive for June, 2012

Post 1- Correlation vs Causation

Correlation does NOT prove causation. Correlation could be defined by any correlation, (a positive relationship, negative relationship, inverted relationship) between any two variables. For example, when A increases, so does B. Causation, however, states that A caused B. That the increase in A actually was responsible for the increase in B. This can be a BIG problem in psychology. We make that leap between correlation and causation, this logically fallacy get us into all kinds of trouble.

Some examples of this include:

Example 1
Sleeping with one’s shoes on is strongly correlated with waking up with a headache.
Therefore, sleeping with one’s shoes on causes headache.

The above example commits the correlation-implies-causation fallacy, as it prematurely concludes that sleeping with one’s shoes on causes headache. A more plausible explanation is that both are caused by a third factor, in this case going to bed drunk, which thereby gives rise to a correlation. So the conclusion is false.

Example 2
Young children who sleep with the light on are much more likely to develop myopia in later life.
Therefore, sleeping with the light on causes myopia.

This is a scientific example that resulted from a study at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center. Published in the May 13, 1999 issue of Nature,[5] the study received much coverage at the time in the popular press.[6] However, a later study at Ohio State University did not find that infants sleeping with the light on caused the development of myopia. It did find a strong link between parental myopia and the development of child myopia, also noting that myopic parents were more likely to leave a light on in their children’s bedroom.[7][8][9][10] In this case, the cause of both conditions is parental myopia, and the above-stated conclusion is false.

Example 3
As ice cream sales increase, the rate of drowning deaths increases sharply.
Therefore, ice cream consumption causes drowning.

The aforementioned example fails to recognize the importance of time and temperature in relationship to ice cream sales. Ice cream is sold during the hot summer months at a much greater rate than during colder times, and it is during these hot summer months that people are more likely to engage in activities involving water, such as swimming. The increased drowning deaths are simply caused by more exposure to water-based activities, not ice cream. The stated conclusion is false.

Example 4
A hypothetical study shows a relationship between test anxiety scores and shyness scores, with a statistical r value (strength of correlation) of +.59.[11]
Therefore, it may be simply concluded that shyness, in some part, causally influences test anxiety.

However, as encountered in many psychological studies, another variable, a “self-consciousness score,” is discovered which has a sharper correlation (+.73) with shyness. This suggests a possible “third variable” problem, however, when three such closely related measures are found, it further suggests that each may have bidirectional tendencies (see “bidirectional variable,” above), being a cluster of correlated values each influencing one another to some extent. Therefore, the simple conclusion above may be false.

Example 5
Since the 1950s, both the atmospheric CO2 level and obesity levels have increased sharply.
Hence, atmospheric CO2 causes obesity.

As car sales increase, carbon dioxide levels increase as well as obesity as people do less walking and biking.

Example 6
HDL (“good”) cholesterol is negatively correlated with incidence of heart attack.
Therefore, taking medication to raise HDL will decrease the chance of having a heart attack.

Further research[12] has called this conclusion into question. Instead, it may be that other underlying factors, like genes, diet and exercise, affect both HDL levels and the likelihood of having a heart attack; it is possible that medicines may affect the directly measurable factor, HDL levels, without affecting the chance of heart attack.

 Coincidence

With a decrease in the number of pirates, there has been an increase in global warming over the same period.
Therefore, global warming is caused by a lack of pirates.

This example is used satirically by the parody religion Pastafarianism to illustrate the logical fallacy of assuming that correlation equals causation.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Correlation_does_not_imply_causation

In conclusion, ice cream does not cause drowning, but summer and the increase of swimmers might. We need to critically evaluate when we are making this drastic jump from correlation to causation. In experimental studies, we do our very best to eliminate other intervening factors.

 

(I turned this in on time but I wasn’t yet part of the blog group)

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Blog Entry 13- Amy Jennings

The excitation transfer theory applies to situations when people attribute arousal from fear or excitement to attraction for the person they were with. In class, we talked about the example of the men who crossed the high, scary bridge who were more likely to call the researcher later. This theory really applies to all adventure stories and fairy tales. For example: Tangled.

She starts out hating him, but after running away from sword-yielding horses, bad guys, and palace guards, they suddenly find a strong connection. I think every girl secretly wishes that she will experience something like this. Something crazy happens, an amazing boy sweeps in and saves the day and suddenly you have enough connection to be in love for time and all eternity.

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Entry 5-Amy Jennings

Natural selection is the natural process by which heritable traits are passed generation to generation. In natural selection, the traits that enable survival and reproduction are the ones that are passed on. It is the traits that enable the survival that then enable the reproduction and therefore future generations survive.

Mean Girls exemplifies survival of the fittest or Natural Selection in high school. The Queen Bee and her posse believe that if you’re not pretty enough or social adept enough to survive high school, you really don’t belong and therefore we should take you down socially.

 

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Breaking Social Norms-Amy Jennings

At the very beginning of the semester, my friends and I went to the mall and just started talking with random people. Making conversation out of the blue is not exactly something people expect. Each time, as we walked toward them, they would begin to stare. “What is she doing?” was the question in their eyes. I felt a little bit uncomfortable, especially at first. Their stares clearly said “STAY BACK” but I approached anyways and just started talking. It was amazing how some people didn’t really know what to say but others just jumped right into a conversation and we talked for a while. One woman and her elderly mother wouldn’t let us leave! They just wanted to talk and talk. The norm we violated was to only converse with people you know or the people you are with. We violated it by, well, talking to complete strangers. I was surprised at how much easier it got, and by the end of the night, it felt almost natural.

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Breaking Social Norms-Amy Jennings

At the very beginning of the semester, my friends and I went to the mall and just started talking with random people. Making conversation out of the blue is not exactly something people expect. Each time, as we walked toward them, they would begin to stare. “What is she doing?” was the question in their eyes. I felt a little bit uncomfortable, especially at first. Their stares clearly said “STAY BACK” but I approached anyways and just started talking. It was amazing how some people didn’t really know what to say but others just jumped right into a conversation and we talked for a while. One woman and her elderly mother wouldn’t let us leave! They just wanted to talk and talk. The norm we violated was to only converse with people you know or the people you are with. We violated it by, well, talking to complete strangers. I was surprised at how much easier it got, and by the end of the night, it felt almost natural.

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Post 10-Amy Jennings

Egoism is the exact opposite of altruism. Instead of working for the well-being of others, you work only for your own well-being. In many ways, my economics professor would support this kind of a world. He said that when we all work for our own good, our economy grows. But it doesn’t seem very Christian. One great example of an Egoist is Algernon from Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest.” He does whatever he can to shirk all responsibility, help no one and pursue his own pleasures. Here’s just one quote from him:

Algernon: You have invented a very useful younger brother called Ernest, in order that you may be able to come up to town as often as you like. I have invented an invaluable permanent invalid called Bunbury, in order that I may be able to go down into the country whenever I choose. Bunbury is perfectly invaluable. If it wasn’t for Bunbury’s extraordinary bad health, for instance, I wouldn’t be able to dine with you at Willis’s to- night, for I have been really engaged to Aunt Augusta for more than a week. (I.88)

Through lies and deceit, Algernon, along with his friend Jack both pursue their personal desires, helping no one but themselves. In the end, it all somehow works out, but I am grateful that not everyone in our world is like that. Given, there are many people who behave in that way but there is also a good number of people who sacrifice and work for the good of others.

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Blog Entry 9 -Amy Jennings

Catharsis is defined as an emotional release. It’s the idea that punching your brother when he made you mad will make you feel better. Honestly, sometimes I feel like it works. Your brother is being an idiot, you punch him and you feel better. Here’s one example of catharsis.

Lilo and her sister separate and scream into pillows. We like to think that somehow, letting out all of this aggressive energy will make us more ready to deal with the actual situation. Unfortunately, most theorists agree that catharsis is a myth. Rather than decreasing your need to aggress, letting out a little bit of that energy actually increases your desire to aggress.

 

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