Causal Inference from Descriptions of Experimental and Non-experimental Research : Public Understanding of Correlation-Versus-Causation
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The distinction between correlation and causation is emphasized in various college courses. However, previous research suggests that college students frequently incorrectly infer cause and effect relationships from correlational data. These incorrect inferences are made more often when the direction of the causal relationship seems intuitive, a bias that may be perpetuated by incorrect media and scholarly representation of correlational findings. The purpose of this study was to investigate the inferences general community members draw from hypothetical descriptions of experimental and non-experimental research on human behavior.