Copyright

Positive Correlation in Psychology: Examples, Definition & Quiz

Supplemental Lesson
Share Feedback Rate
Instructor: Yolanda Williams

Yolanda has taught college Information Technology, and Literacy and has a master's in counseling psychology and business administration.

Explore the characteristics of positive correlations. Learn about strength and direction, the difference between positive and negative correlations, and more.

We also recommend watching Correlational Studies in Psychology: Examples, Advantages & Types and Positive Psychology

Imagine that you are conducting research on school achievement. You want to know if a relationship exists between school achievement and attendance. You collect the grade point average (GPA) and days present during the school year from 75 high school students. Your findings are reported in the table below.

Student data

If you look at the data closely, you will begin to notice that as the days present increases, GPA also increases. In other words, there is a positive correlation between school achievement and attendance.

What Is a Positive Correlation?

What does it mean when we say that two variables are correlated with each other? It means that there is a relationship between them. A correlation is a single numerical value that is used to describe the relationship. Correlation is most commonly measured by the Pearson Product Moment Correlation, which is commonly referred to as Pearson's r. Because of this, a correlation is usually represented by the letter r.

Every correlation has two qualities: strength and direction. The direction of a correlation is either positive or negative. In a negative correlation, the variables move in inverse or opposite directions. In other words, as one variable increases, the other variable decreases. For example, there is a negative correlation between self-esteem and depression. In other words, the higher your self-esteem, the lower your feelings of depression.

When two variables have a positive correlation, they move in the same direction. This means that as one variable increases, so does the other one. In the example above, we noted that the students who attended school more frequently had the highest GPAs. As the days present at school decreased, so did GPA.

Some other examples of variables that have a positive correlation are:

  • GPA and SAT score: The students with the higher GPAs are usually the ones who perform best on the SAT
  • Education and salary: The more years of schooling you have, the higher your income will likely be
  • Depression and suicide: Those suffer from depression tend to have higher rates of suicide than those who do not

Strength

We determine the strength of a relationship between two correlated variables by looking at the numbers. A correlation of 0 means that no relationship exists between the two variables, whereas a correlation of 1 indicates a perfect positive relationship. It is uncommon to find a perfect positive relationship in the real world. Chances are that if you find a positive correlation between two variables that the correlation will lie somewhere between 0 and 1.

The further away from 1 that a positive correlation lies, the weaker the correlation. Similarly, the further a negative correlation lies from -1, the weaker the correlation. A correlation of 0.5 is not stronger than a correlation of 0.8. A correlation of -0.5 is not stronger than a correlation of -0.8.

Two correlations with the same numerical value have the same strength whether or not the correlation is positive or negative. This means that a correlation of -0.8 has the same strength as a correlation of 0.8.

The following guidelines are useful when determining the strength of a positive correlation:

  • 1: perfect positive correlation
  • .70 to .99: very strong positive relationship
  • .40 to .69: strong positive relationship
  • .30 to .39: moderate positive relationship
  • .20 to .29: weak positive relationship
  • .01 to .19: no or negligible relationship
  • 0: no relationship exists

Scatterplot

The easiest way to spot a positive correlation is to create a scatterplot. We can put the GPA on the x-axis and the days present during the school year on the y-axis to create a scatterplot.

Positive Correlation

Continue reading...
Create An Account
To Start This Course Today
Used by over 10 million students worldwide
Create An Account
Try it free for 5 days
Start Your Free Trial To Take This Quiz

As a member, you'll also get unlimited access to over 8,500 lessons in math, English, science, history, and more. Plus, get practice tests, quizzes, and personalized coaching to help you succeed.

Free 5-day trial
It only takes a few minutes to set up and you can cancel at any time.
Already registered? Login here for access

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 100 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 2,900 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Education Portal has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.


Watch all the video lessons you want free for 5 days
Select a plan to try & see why over 10 million users love Education Portal
Start Free Trial