Correlational vs Experimental Research – Importance and Uses

Correlational vs Experimental Research

Correlational and experimental research resembles in the way that they both find results by relating variables. However, one aims to find the causal relationship while the other finds non-causal relationship between them. Likewise, there are many other differences between them as well. Thus, this article aims to highlight the fine line of differences between correlational and experimental research. It will also describe importance and uses of both types of research.

Correlational research: Definitions

 In this method of research, the effect of variables on a phenomenon is measured without manipulating anyone. Here, you can find whether variables change together, but the degree of interdependence of dependent and independent variables cannot be found using this method. Both positive as well as negative directions of correlation can be found after analysis. The positive correlation helps show changes in the same direction, while the negative correlation means variables have an inverse relationship between them. In other words, a correlational study helps investigate the relationship between variables without controlling any variable.

Importance and uses of Correlational studies:

This type of research is ideal for gathering data from a natural setting. It offers valid ways to generalize or relate variables in a real-life situation. It helps in investigating the non-causal relationship between variables. It is extremely useful in providing complex real-world problems. Making predictions and developing theories are also some important tasks achieved by correlational studies. Additionally, to explore the causal relationship between variables and to test new tools, correlation is better than experimental research.

Also Read: Discover Why Failure Is Essential for Learning and Growth

Experimental research: Definitions

In experimental research, you need to manipulate independent variables to see their effect on the dependent variables. In this way, by controlling one variable, the effect of other variables  on the phenomenon are calculated. Moreover, experimental research can be done in several ways, such as true experiments, quasi-experiments and pre-experiments.

Importance or uses of experimental studies:

Though experiments can be designed to study any type of research containing more than one set of variables, but physical sciences, social sciences, and psychological sciences mainly depend on this method of study. For example, in medicines, if you want to find a proper treatment for a disease, then experimental studies can best help you. Furthermore, while conducting behaviour studies and educational studies, experiments can be equally beneficial. Apart from all, if you are conducting research to find the relationship between variables involved in a study for academic research or dissertation writing, you can seek masters dissertation help. Seeking helps from experts helps avoid all structural and formational problems.  

Difference between the experimental research and correlational research:   

As described in the introduction section of this article, the most prominent difference between experimental and correlational research is one measure causal relationships while the other finds non-causal relationships. Other than these, the following are other differences that will help you in knowing more about their distinguishing features:

  1. Experimental research is the type of research that finds the relationship between the independent as well as dependent variables. However, the correlational study explores the possible relationship between the variables that might be due to some other influencing factors.
  2. Experimental research is more difficult to conduct as compared to correlational studies. The latter help in finding relatively generalized results and help in knowing how things operate in a natural environment.
  3. Correlational studies explore relationships to unveil if it is significant enough to conduct experiments. In this regard, you can also use the correlational study as preliminary research before manipulating variables in a controlled fashion.
  4. Both of these research designs also differ based on the method of analysis. In experimental design, you can select any statistical method to conduct research, for example, GraphPad Prism, SPSS, and any other tool that can quantify the results. However, for conducting correlational research, regression and correlation are important techniques used for analysis.
  5. Correlation results are usually represented in terms of positive as well as negative relations. However, experiments give results by stating how the changes in the independent variables affect the outcomes of the experimental research.

Bottom lines:

After all is said and done, we can conclude that none of these methods of research is the best.  Likewise, you cannot prioritize any method without considering your research goals. Simply, if you want to find the relationship between independent and dependent variables, you cannot achieve the aim by selecting the correlational design. Likewise, positive and negative correlations cannot be found by using experimental design. Now, it is up to you what your research goals are and which method can best give you the results.