Ninth Edition CoverGraziano & Raulin
Research Methods (9th edition)

Example of
Correlational Research

Example # 1 

Ozonoff, S., Macari, S., Young, G. S., Goldring, S., Thompson, M., & Rogers, S. J. (2008). Atypical object exploration at 12 months of age is associated with autism in a prospective sample. Autism, 12, 457-472. 


       This prospective, within and between-groups study used a factorial design to test hypotheses about differences between groups, and a series of correlations to determine the degree and direction of association among variables. The participants were 66 12-month-old children. Thirty five had an older sibling diagnosed with autism and 31 had typical (normal) siblings. At 12 months all 66 children were tested with an object manipulation task designed to find normal and abnormal (i.e. autistic) styles of object manipulations. At 24 or 36 months the same children were examined for signs and/or diagnoses of autistic or other developmental problems.

       It was found that 9 of the infants with autistic siblings, were later diagnosed w/ autistic adjustment. A series of correlations for those children was computed between their scores on the initial object manipulation test and their scores on the later tests of development. The results showed that atypical object manipulation at 12 months were positively correlated with later autistic development, negatively correlated with typical (normal) development, and thus did did predict the later diagnoses of autism. The researchers discussed the implications of their findings, that autistic development can be flagged as early as 12 months of age.

Example # 2

Thomas, A. J., Witherspoon, K. M., & Speight, S. L. (2008). Gendered racism, psychological distress and coping styles in African American women. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 14(4), 307-313.


These researchers studied three questions concerning racism experienced by African American women: (1) What proportions of African American women have experienced various forms of racism? (2) Are those experiences of racism associated with the women’s general psychological distress? and (3) Do the women’s coping styles mediate the effects of racism on psychological distress?

314 African American women responded to written questionnaires designed to provide measures of  their experience of racism,  their global psychological distress, and  their coping styles.

Results: Many forms of racism were reported by the women (e.g. insults by co-workers, being ignored by store clerks, racial jokes, etc.). Those various forms were reported by 70% to 91%, depending upon the form, of the African-American women.  Thus, racism was a common experience for these women.

Pearson correlation coefficients revealed significant positive relationships between reported racism events and the women’s global psychological distress, even when their coping mechanisms were operating.

Further regression analyses revealed that coping styles (e.g., trying to make light of the incident, etc.) were regularly employed, that they were only partially successful, and that they may have made the negative experience worse because the person's coping attempts were not completely successful.  

Example #3

Leary, M. R., Rapp, S. R., Herbst, K. C., Exum, M. L., & Feldman, S. R. (1998). Interpersonal concerns and psychological difficulties of psoriasis patients: Effects of disease severity and fear of negative evaluation. Health Psychology, 17, 530-536.


This study used questionnaire packets to assess the relationship between disease severity (psoriasis) and the fear of negative evaluation that psoriasis patients experience. Disease severity was measured using the Self-administered Psoriasis Area Severity Index (SAPASI). Fear of negative evaluation was measured using the Brief FNE (Brief Fear of Negative Evaluation Scale). A number of other variables considered relevant to this relationship were also measured with additional scales (interpersonal discomfort, quality of life, reactions to symptoms, perceived stigmatization and others). A correlation coefficient was used to measure the degree of relationship between subjects' FNE scores and their SAPASI scores. Pearson correlations were also computed for relationships between many of the additional scales and the SAPASI scales using multiple regression analyses.

Example #4

Russell, D. W., Cutrona, C. E., de la Mora, A., & Wallace, R. B. (1997). Loneliness and nursing home admission among rural older adults. Psychology & Aging, 12, 574-589.


This study examined the relationship between older adults' feelings of loneliness and their subsequent admission to nursing homes. Measures normally associated with admission to a nursing home such as age and level of functioning were controlled. Scores on the revised UCLA Loneliness Scale were used to assess the loneliness of subjects. Admission status (admitted or not admitted) to a nursing home at a four-year follow-up were correlated with loneliness scores.

Example #5

Harlow, R. E., & Cantor, N. (1996). Still participating after all these years: A study of life task participation in later life. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 71 1235-1249.


This study investigated the relationship between variables such as social life and organizational affiliation to life satisfaction in 618 older Americans. They found that social life was critically important in predicting life satisfaction, especially in those older Americans who were not working. These finding held up even when factors such as health, self-reported vitality, social support, and congeniality were controlled.

Example #6

Joiner, T. E. Jr., & Schmidt, N. B. (1998). Excessive reassurance-seeking predicts depressive but not anxious reactions to stress. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 107, 533-537.


The authors looked at whether excessive reassurance seeking would predict changes in depressive symptomatology over a 5-week intensive training program for 1000+ Air Force cadets. Along with the Beck Depression and Beck Anxiety Inventories, a scale to measure excessive reassurance seeking was administered when cadets first arrived for training. After the 5 weeks of training, the Beck inventories were re-administered. Consistent with their hypothesis, excessive reassurance seeking was associated with increased in both depression and anxiety during the training period.

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