Statistics: Variable Relationships – Positive and Negative

Determine Outcomes with Relationship Types

Understanding relationships between variables during analytical study is important as they often affect outcomes.
Variables may have positive relationships whereby the outcome of one variable results in a positive outcome for the other. Also this positive relationship may be recursive in the second variable’s positive outcome results in a positive outcome for the first variable.
Conversely, these relationships may also be negative where one relationship’s negative outcome produces a negative outcome in the other.
To determine which type of relationship exist between variables, increase the value of one variable and see if it translates into an increase (positive) or decrease (negative) of the other.

Positive Relationship

In the example below from the article Tableau: A/B Testing Grades vs. Study Tutor (link), you can see as the number of hours a student studies increases, so does their grade.

Negative Relationship

In this relationship as distractions increase, the resulting grade decreases.

Positive and Negative Relationships

Analyzing all variables’ relationships simultaneously yields the greatest insights as you can visualize a multivariate study.

In this example, you may determine:

  • As Hours of Study increases, so does the Resulting Grade (positive relationship).
  • However, as Hours of Study increases, Distractions decrease (negative relationship), and vice-versa.
  • As Distractions increase, the Resulting Grade decreases (negative relationship).

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