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Extraneous Variables, Control of

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) 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 to be physically ...

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