Research is commonly designed to test causal hypotheses. Whether the hypothesis is general or specific, it can be expressed as ‘IV causes DV,’ where IV is an independent (causal) variable and DV is the dependent (consequent) variable. There are three generally accepted conditions for establishing causality—temporal ordering, reliable covariation, and nonspuriousness. These conditions can be met in either longitudinal or cross-sectional studies, but there is an important difference between the two. Longitudinal studies compare two or more time periods on a set of cases. The resulting regression coefficient describes the amount of change in the DV resulting from a unit change in the IV. Cross-sectional studies compare a set of individuals (persons or groups) who differ on the DV. The resulting regression coefficient describes the ...

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