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Confounding occurs when two variables systematically covary. Researchers are often interested in examining whether there is a relationship between two or more variables. Understanding the relationship between or among variables, including whether those relationships are causal, can be complicated when an independent or predictor variable covaries with a variable other than the dependent variable. When a variable systematically varies with the independent variable, the confounding variable provides an explanation other than the independent variable for changes in the dependent variable.

Confounds in Correlational Designs

Confounding variables are at the heart of the third-variable problem in correlational studies. In a correlational study, researchers examine the relationship between two variables. Even if two variables are correlated, it is possible that a third, confounding variable is responsible for the apparent ...

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