For many researchers, one of the hallmarks of scientific discovery is the establishment of causal relationships; that is, identifying consistent and robust associations between one or more independent variables (IVs), or the cause of an observed outcome, and a target dependent variable (DV), or the effect or observed outcome itself. The ability to describe, explain, predict, and control such effects is a core goal of any social scientific research paradigm.
One of the most difficult tasks in establishing causal relationships, however, is isolating the expected IV–DV relationship from extraneous (or unexpected) [Page 484]relationships that are not core to one’s research program. An example of such a scenario might be a researcher looking to understand how violent television content (IV) might cause an individual ...
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