Pearson correlation - overview

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Pearson correlation
One way ANOVA
Variable 1Independent/grouping variable
One quantitative of interval or ratio levelOne categorical with $I$ independent groups ($I \geqslant 2$)
Variable 2Dependent variable
One quantitative of interval or ratio levelOne quantitative of interval or ratio level
Null hypothesisNull hypothesis
H0: $\rho = \rho_0$

$\rho$ is the unknown Pearson correlation in the population, $\rho_0$ is the correlation in the population according to the null hypothesis (usually 0). The Pearson correlation is a measure for the strength and direction of the linear relationship between two variables of at least interval measurement level.
ANOVA $F$ test:
  • H0: $\mu_1 = \mu_2 = \ldots = \mu_I$
    $\mu_1$ is the population mean for group 1; $\mu_2$ is the population mean for group 2; $\mu_I$ is the population mean for group $I$
$t$ Test for contrast:
  • H0: $\Psi = 0$
    $\Psi$ is the population contrast, defined as $\Psi = \sum a_i\mu_i$. Here $\mu_i$ is the population mean for group $i$ and $a_i$ is the coefficient for $\mu_i$. The coefficients $a_i$ sum to 0.
$t$ Test multiple comparisons:
  • H0: $\mu_g = \mu_h$
    $\mu_g$ is the population mean for group $g$; $\mu_h$ is the population mean for group $h$
Alternative hypothesisAlternative hypothesis
H1 two sided: $\rho \neq \rho_0$
H1 right sided: $\rho > \rho_0$
H1 left sided: $\rho < \rho_0$
ANOVA $F$ test:
  • H1: not all population means are equal
$t$ Test for contrast:
  • H1 two sided: $\Psi \neq 0$
  • H1 right sided: $\Psi > 0$
  • H1 left sided: $\Psi < 0$
$t$ Test multiple comparisons:
  • H1 - usually two sided: $\mu_g \neq \mu_h$
Assumptions of test for correlationAssumptions
  • In the population, the two variables are jointly normally distributed (this covers the normality, homoscedasticity, and linearity assumptions)
  • Sample of pairs is a simple random sample from the population of pairs. That is, pairs are independent of one another
Note: these assumptions are only important for the significance test and confidence interval, not for the correlation coefficient itself. The correlation coefficient just measures the strength of the linear relationship between two variables.
  • Within each population, the scores on the dependent variable are normally distributed
  • The standard deviation of the scores on the dependent variable is the same in each of the populations: $\sigma_1 = \sigma_2 = \ldots = \sigma_I$
  • Group 1 sample is a simple random sample (SRS) from population 1, group 2 sample is an independent SRS from population 2, $\ldots$, group $I$ sample is an independent SRS from population $I$. That is, within and between groups, observations are independent of one another
Test statisticTest statistic
Test statistic for testing H0: $\rho = 0$:
  • $t = \dfrac{r \times \sqrt{N - 2}}{\sqrt{1 - r^2}} $
    where $r$ is the sample correlation $r = \frac{1}{N - 1} \sum_{j}\Big(\frac{x_{j} - \bar{x}}{s_x} \Big) \Big(\frac{y_{j} - \bar{y}}{s_y} \Big)$ and $N$ is the sample size
Test statistic for testing values for $\rho$ other than $\rho = 0$:
  • $z = \dfrac{r_{Fisher} - \rho_{0_{Fisher}}}{\sqrt{\dfrac{1}{N - 3}}}$
    • $r_{Fisher} = \dfrac{1}{2} \times \log\Bigg(\dfrac{1 + r}{1 - r} \Bigg )$, where $r$ is the sample correlation
    • $\rho_{0_{Fisher}} = \dfrac{1}{2} \times \log\Bigg( \dfrac{1 + \rho_0}{1 - \rho_0} \Bigg )$, where $\rho_0$ is the population correlation according to H0
ANOVA $F$ test:
  • $\begin{aligned}[t] F &= \dfrac{\sum\nolimits_{subjects} (\mbox{subject's group mean} - \mbox{overall mean})^2 / (I - 1)}{\sum\nolimits_{subjects} (\mbox{subject's score} - \mbox{its group mean})^2 / (N - I)}\\ &= \dfrac{\mbox{sum of squares between} / \mbox{degrees of freedom between}}{\mbox{sum of squares error} / \mbox{degrees of freedom error}}\\ &= \dfrac{\mbox{mean square between}}{\mbox{mean square error}} \end{aligned} $
    where $N$ is the total sample size, and $I$ is the number of groups.
    Note: mean square between is also known as mean square model; mean square error is also known as mean square residual or mean square within
$t$ Test for contrast:
  • $t = \dfrac{c}{s_p\sqrt{\sum \dfrac{a^2_i}{n_i}}}$
    Here $c$ is the sample estimate of the population contrast $\Psi$: $c = \sum a_i\bar{y}_i$, with $\bar{y}_i$ the sample mean in group $i$. $s_p$ is the pooled standard deviation based on all the $I$ groups in the ANOVA, $a_i$ is the contrast coefficient for group $i$, and $n_i$ is the sample size of group $i$.
    Note that if the contrast compares only two group means with each other, this $t$ statistic is very similar to the two sample $t$ statistic (assuming equal population standard deviations). In that case the only difference is that we now base the pooled standard deviation on all the $I$ groups, which affects the $t$ value if $I \geqslant 3$. It also affects the corresponding degrees of freedom.
$t$ Test multiple comparisons:
  • $t = \dfrac{\bar{y}_g - \bar{y}_h}{s_p\sqrt{\dfrac{1}{n_g} + \dfrac{1}{n_h}}}$
    $\bar{y}_g$ is the sample mean in group $g$, $\bar{y}_h$ is the sample mean in group $h$, $s_p$ is the pooled standard deviation based on all the $I$ groups in the ANOVA, $n_g$ is the sample size of group $g$, and $n_h$ is the sample size of group $h$.
    Note that this $t$ statistic is very similar to the two sample $t$ statistic (assuming equal population standard deviations). The only difference is that we now base the pooled standard deviation on all the $I$ groups, which affects the $t$ value if $I \geqslant 3$. It also affects the corresponding degrees of freedom.
n.a.Pooled standard deviation
-$ \begin{aligned} s_p &= \sqrt{\dfrac{(n_1 - 1) \times s^2_1 + (n_2 - 1) \times s^2_2 + \ldots + (n_I - 1) \times s^2_I}{N - I}}\\ &= \sqrt{\dfrac{\sum\nolimits_{subjects} (\mbox{subject's score} - \mbox{its group mean})^2}{N - I}}\\ &= \sqrt{\dfrac{\mbox{sum of squares error}}{\mbox{degrees of freedom error}}}\\ &= \sqrt{\mbox{mean square error}} \end{aligned} $
where $s^2_i$ is the variance in group $i$
Sampling distribution of $t$ and of $z$ if H0 were trueSampling distribution of $F$ and of $t$ if H0 were true
Sampling distribution of $t$:
  • $t$ distribution with $N - 2$ degrees of freedom
Sampling distribution of $z$:
  • Approximately the standard normal distribution
Sampling distribution of $F$:
  • $F$ distribution with $I - 1$ (df between, numerator) and $N - I$ (df error, denominator) degrees of freedom
Sampling distribution of $t$:
  • $t$ distribution with $N - I$ degrees of freedom
Significant?Significant?
$t$ Test two sided: $t$ Test right sided: $t$ Test left sided: $z$ Test two sided: $z$ Test right sided: $z$ Test left sided: $F$ test:
  • Check if $F$ observed in sample is equal to or larger than critical value $F^*$ or
  • Find $p$ value corresponding to observed $F$ and check if it is equal to or smaller than $\alpha$ (e.g. .01 < $p$ < .025 when $F$ = 3.91, df between = 4, and df error = 20)

$t$ Test for contrast two sided: $t$ Test for contrast right sided: $t$ Test for contrast left sided:
$t$ Test multiple comparisons two sided:
  • Check if $t$ observed in sample is at least as extreme as critical value $t^{**}$. Adapt $t^{**}$ according to a multiple comparison procedure (e.g., Bonferroni) or
  • Find two sided $p$ value corresponding to observed $t$ and check if it is equal to or smaller than $\alpha$. Adapt the $p$ value or $\alpha$ according to a multiple comparison procedure
$t$ Test multiple comparisons right sided
  • Check if $t$ observed in sample is equal to or larger than critical value $t^{**}$. Adapt $t^{**}$ according to a multiple comparison procedure (e.g., Bonferroni) or
  • Find right sided $p$ value corresponding to observed $t$ and check if it is equal to or smaller than $\alpha$. Adapt the $p$ value or $\alpha$ according to a multiple comparison procedure
$t$ Test multiple comparisons left sided
  • Check if $t$ observed in sample is equal to or smaller than critical value $t^{**}$. Adapt $t^{**}$ according to a multiple comparison procedure (e.g., Bonferroni) or
  • Find left sided $p$ value corresponding to observed $t$ and check if it is equal to or smaller than $\alpha$. Adapt the $p$ value or $\alpha$ according to a multiple comparison procedure
Approximate $C$% confidence interval for $\rho$$C\%$ confidence interval for $\Psi$, for $\mu_g - \mu_h$, and for $\mu_i$
First compute approximate $C$% confidence interval for $\rho_{Fisher}$:
  • $lower_{Fisher} = r_{Fisher} - z^* \times \sqrt{\dfrac{1}{N - 3}}$
  • $upper_{Fisher} = r_{Fisher} + z^* \times \sqrt{\dfrac{1}{N - 3}}$
where $r_{Fisher} = \frac{1}{2} \times \log\Bigg(\dfrac{1 + r}{1 - r} \Bigg )$ and $z^*$ is the value under the normal curve with the area $C / 100$ between $-z^*$ and $z^*$ (e.g. $z^*$ = 1.96 for a 95% confidence interval).
Then transform back to get approximate $C$% confidence interval for $\rho$:
  • lower bound = $\dfrac{e^{2 \times lower_{Fisher}} - 1}{e^{2 \times lower_{Fisher}} + 1}$
  • upper bound = $\dfrac{e^{2 \times upper_{Fisher}} - 1}{e^{2 \times upper_{Fisher}} + 1}$
Confidence interval for $\Psi$ (contrast):
  • $c \pm t^* \times s_p\sqrt{\sum \dfrac{a^2_i}{n_i}}$
    where the critical value $t^*$ is the value under the $t_{N - I}$ distribution with the area $C / 100$ between $-t^*$ and $t^*$ (e.g. $t^*$ = 2.086 for a 95% confidence interval when df = 20). Note that $n_i$ is the sample size of group $i$, and $N$ is the total sample size, based on all the $I$ groups.
Confidence interval for $\mu_g - \mu_h$ (multiple comparisons):
  • $(\bar{y}_g - \bar{y}_h) \pm t^{**} \times s_p\sqrt{\dfrac{1}{n_g} + \dfrac{1}{n_h}}$
    where $t^{**}$ depends upon $C$, degrees of freedom ($N - I$), and the multiple comparison procedure. If you do not want to apply a multiple comparison procedure, $t^{**} = t^* = $ the value under the $t_{N - I}$ distribution with the area $C / 100$ between $-t^*$ and $t^*$. Note that $n_g$ is the sample size of group $g$, $n_h$ is the sample size of group $h$, and $N$ is the total sample size, based on all the $I$ groups.
Confidence interval for single population mean $\mu_i$:
  • $\bar{y}_i \pm t^* \times \dfrac{s_p}{\sqrt{n_i}}$
    where $\bar{y}_i$ is the sample mean for group $i$, $n_i$ is the sample size for group $i$, and the critical value $t^*$ is the value under the $t_{N - I}$ distribution with the area $C / 100$ between $-t^*$ and $t^*$ (e.g. $t^*$ = 2.086 for a 95% confidence interval when df = 20). Note that $n_i$ is the sample size of group $i$, and $N$ is the total sample size, based on all the $I$ groups.
Properties of the Pearson correlation coefficientEffect size
  • The Pearson correlation coefficient is a measure for the linear relationship between two quantitative variables.
  • The Pearson correlation coefficient squared reflects the proportion of variance explained in one variable by the other variable.
  • The Pearson correlation coefficient can take on values between -1 (perfect negative relationship) and 1 (perfect positive relationship). A value of 0 means no linear relationship.
  • The absolute size of the Pearson correlation coefficient is not affected by any linear transformation of the variables. However, the sign of the Pearson correlation will flip when the scores on one of the two variables are multiplied by a negative number (reversing the direction of measurement of that variable).
    For example:
    • the correlation between $x$ and $y$ is equivalent to the correlation between $3x + 5$ and $2y - 6$.
    • the absolute value of the correlation between $x$ and $y$ is equivalent to the absolute value of the correlation between $-3x + 5$ and $2y - 6$. However, the signs of the two correlation coefficients will be in opposite directions, due to the multiplication of $x$ by $-3$.
  • The Pearson correlation coefficient does not say anything about causality.
  • The Pearson correlation coefficient is sensitive to outliers.
  • Proportion variance explained $\eta^2$ and $R^2$:
    Proportion variance of the dependent variable $y$ explained by the independent variable: $$ \begin{align} \eta^2 = R^2 &= \dfrac{\mbox{sum of squares between}}{\mbox{sum of squares total}} \end{align} $$ Only in one way ANOVA $\eta^2 = R^2$. $\eta^2$ (and $R^2$) is the proportion variance explained in the sample. It is a positively biased estimate of the proportion variance explained in the population.

  • Proportion variance explained $\omega^2$:
    Corrects for the positive bias in $\eta^2$ and is equal to: $$\omega^2 = \frac{\mbox{sum of squares between} - \mbox{df between} \times \mbox{mean square error}}{\mbox{sum of squares total} + \mbox{mean square error}}$$ $\omega^2$ is a better estimate of the explained variance in the population than $\eta^2$.

  • Cohen's $d$:
    Standardized difference between the mean in group $g$ and in group $h$: $$d_{g,h} = \frac{\bar{y}_g - \bar{y}_h}{s_p}$$ Indicates how many standard deviations $s_p$ two sample means are removed from each other
n.a.ANOVA table
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ANOVA table

Click the link for a step by step explanation of how to compute the sum of squares
Equivalent toEquivalent to
OLS regression with one independent variable:
  • $b_1 = r \times \frac{s_y}{s_x}$
  • Results significance test ($t$ and $p$ value) testing $H_0$: $\beta_1 = 0$ are equivalent to results significance test testing $H_0$: $\rho = 0$
OLS regression with one, categorical independent variable transformed into $I - 1$ code variables:
  • $F$ test ANOVA equivalent to $F$ test regression model
  • $t$ test for contrast $i$ equivalent to $t$ test for regression coefficient $\beta_i$ (specific contrast tested depends on how the code variables are defined)
Example contextExample context
Is there a linear relationship between physical health and mental health?Is the average mental health score different between people from a low, moderate, and high economic class?
SPSSSPSS
Analyze > Correlate > Bivariate...
  • Put your two variables in the box below Variables
Analyze > Compare Means > One-Way ANOVA...
  • Put your dependent (quantitative) variable in the box below Dependent List and your independent (grouping) variable in the box below Factor
or
Analyze > General Linear Model > Univariate...
  • Put your dependent (quantitative) variable in the box below Dependent Variable and your independent (grouping) variable in the box below Fixed Factor(s)
JamoviJamovi
Regression > Correlation Matrix
  • Put your two variables in the white box at the right
  • Under Correlation Coefficients, select Pearson (selected by default)
  • Under Hypothesis, select your alternative hypothesis
ANOVA > ANOVA
  • Put your dependent (quantitative) variable in the box below Dependent Variable and your independent (grouping) variable in the box below Fixed Factors
Practice questionsPractice questions