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A dependent variable is a variable that is explained by one or more other variables, which are referred to as “independent variables.” The decision to treat a variable as a dependent variable may also imply a claim that an independent variable does not merely predict this variable but also shapes (i.e. causes) the dependent variable. For example, in a survey studying news consumption, exposure to television news could serve as a dependent variable. Other variables, such as demographic characteristics and interest in public affairs, would serve as the independent variables. These independent variables can be used to predict television news exposure and also may be investigated as to whether they also cause one's exposure level.

Researchers often face challenges in establishing causality based on survey data. ...

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