Food versus Intelligence

I’m copying another one of my psychology assignments because I never seem to have time to write a real post anymore. So here it goes.

The prompt was:

(1) Provide a unique example (i.e., one that has not already been posted) of a recent claim that is most likely based off of correlational research yet claims causation. 

(2) Explain why you believe the correlational research method was used. 

(3) Explain why you believe the claim was formed to suggest causation. 

(4) In your opinion, how should the results of the study be reported?

The number one rule of psychology is that CORRELATION NEVER DETERMINES CAUSATION. Ever ever ever. Ever. Basically, the correlational method says that some events appear to be related because if one variable changes, so does the other. This is useful when you’re trying to figure out which variable influences the other. But it doesn’t mean that one causes the other. You have to use the experimental method to figure that out, which involves the independent and dependent variable.

And here is my answer:

A school in Portland, Maine has banned the sale of soda, popcorn and potato chips at school, as well as at football games. The school released a statement saying that “diet influences students’ ability to learn, and they aim to ensure that food offered at schools and school events support student achievement.” There is a correlation between the foods that students eat and the student’s test scores, but that doesn’t prove that good nutrition causes intelligence. The school stated this as a fact.

I believe that the correlational method was used in this experiment. The researchers probably asked parents and students about what the students ate, and then compared it to the student’s grades. I found a similar study here that is based on toddlers and young children. I believe that correlational method was used because it involves making careful observations. It wouldn’t be experimental because it would be unethical to feed some teenagers junk food and some healthy food and them compare their intelligence (much like you couldn’t feed someone unhealthy food to see if they develop diabetes.)

I believe that this claim was formed to suggest causation because a lot of students and parents were upset about the school district trying to regulate what the children eat. Hummus has replaced popcorn, and pizza must be on whole wheat dough. A lot of people were protesting the school as well as sporting events. If the school presented their correlation as fact, perhaps more people would be okay with the new rules.

I believe that the results should have included alternatives. Perhaps students who eat healthier have better grades because their parents have more money and can afford to put them in better schools and hire tutors. Or maybe the students with better grades care about themselves more all around, and take the time to study, eat well, and exercise. There are several alternatives besides the one presented.



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