What’s the difference between correlational and experimental research?

Controlled experiments establish causality, whereas correlational studies only show associations between variables.

  • In an experimental design, you manipulate an independent variable and measure its effect on a dependent variable. Other variables are controlled so they can’t impact the results.
  • In a correlational design, you measure variables without manipulating any of them. You can test whether your variables change together, but you can’t be sure that one variable caused a change in another.

In general, correlational research is high in external validity while experimental research is high in internal validity.