When an increase in one variable causes another variable to increase or a decrease in one variable causes another variable to decrease, that's a positive correlation. It's a common way to examine relationships in psychology and statistics, and it can help you predict what the result of one behavior will be. You may be surprised at how many examples of positive correlation you can find in your daily life!
Both positive correlations and negative correlations (when one variable increases as the other decreases) can be found everywhere you look. For example, when you spend more time in sunlight, your chances of getting a sunburn also go up. More examples of positive correlations include:
- The more time you spend running on a treadmill, the more calories you will burn.
- The longer your hair grows, the more shampoo you will need.
- The more money you save, the more financially secure you feel.
- As the temperature goes up, ice cream sales also go up.
- The more gasoline you put in your car, the farther it can go.
- The longer amount of time you spend in the bath, the more wrinkly your skin becomes.
- As it snows more, the sales for snow shovels go up.
- As you drink more coffee, the number of hours you stay awake increases.
- As a child grows, so does their clothing size.
- As tread on your car’s tires decreases, traction with the road decreases.
- The more you exercise your muscles, the stronger they get.
One example of positive correlation in the business world has to do with the demand for and the price of a product. When the demand for a product goes up, the price also goes up; when the demand decreases, the price decreases as well. Other examples of positive correlation in business would be:
- The less time you spend marketing your business, the fewer new customers you will have.
- When an employee works more hours, their paycheck also increases.
- The longer someone invests, the more compound interest they will earn.
- When workers get a raise, morale improves.
- When employees make a high salary, efficiency increases.
- Hiring more salespeople will result in the company making more sales.
- The more customers spend in the economy, the higher a country's GDP (Gross Domestic Product).
- When the employment level is high, inflation also rises due to increased money in the economy.
Scientists often look for correlations when conducting research and tests.
- As the number of trees cut down increases, the probability of erosion increases.
- In archaeology, a more stable landform means more site visibility.
- As the temperature decreases, the speed at which molecules move decreases.
- As the speed of a wind turbine increases, the amount of electricity that is generated increases.
- As the amount of moisture increases in an environment, the growth of mold spores increases.
- As algae increases in a lake, a certain species of algae-eating fish increased.
- As the percentage of salt in salty water increases, buoyancy increases.
- As you eat more antioxidants, your immune system improves.
- The faster a jet pilot flies, the higher the G-forces are.
- As the wattage of light bulbs increases, the light output increases.
Students, teachers and administrators see examples of positive correlations in schools every day.
- Schools with high test scores also have high graduation rates.
- When enrollment at college decreases, the number of teachers decreases.
- As a student’s study time increases, so do their test averages.
- The more years of education you complete, the higher your earning potential will be.
- Investing in professional development for teachers also increases overall student achievement.
- Students with strong attendance records also have higher grades.
- Becoming more involved with school activities increases students' self-esteem.
Finding the positive or negative correlation between two variables is an important way to study cause and effect. By making these connections, we can understand more about the world around us — and we can use this knowledge to make choices that affect others as well. If you're interested in more psychological concepts, check out: