In survey research, an independent variable is thought to influence, or at least be correlated with, another variable: the dependent variable. For example, researchers hypothesize that childhood exposure to violent television can lead to violent behavior in adulthood. In such a study, exposure to violent television programming as a child is an independent variable and violent behavior in adulthood is the dependent variable.

An independent variable is commonly denoted by an x and a dependent variable by y, with the implication that "x causes y" or, in the case of noncausal covariation, "x is related to y."

Determining whether one variable influences another is of central importance in many surveys and studies, as making this determination helps researchers accept or reject hypotheses and thereby build social science ...

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