Definition Spurious correlation

A spurious correlation indicates a seemingly causal relationship between to correlating variables. It is statistically existent, though not based on a cause and effect relationship.

For example, the frequency of hospital visits increases with net income. The cause of this phenomenon is likely not income, but the age of the respondents. Older people usually earn more than younger people – and are simultaneously more prone to injuries and diseases.  

Please note that the definitions in our statistics encyclopedia are simplified explanations of terms. Our goal is to make the definitions accessible for a broad audience; thus it is possible that some definitions do not adhere entirely to scientific standards.