Skip to content

QT/U2 Topic 3 Measurement of Correlation – Karl Pearson’s Method, Spearman Rank Correlation

Karl Pearson’s Coefficient of Correlation is widely used mathematical method wherein the numerical expression is used to calculate the degree and direction of the relationship between linear related variables.

Pearson’s method, popularly known as a Pearsonian Coefficient of Correlation, is the most extensively used quantitative methods in practice. The coefficient of correlation is denoted by “r”.

If the relationship between two variables X and Y is to be ascertained, then the following formula is used:

topic 3.1.jpg

Properties of Coefficient of Correlation

  • The value of the coefficient of correlation (r) always lies between±1. Such as:
    r=+1, perfect positive correlation
    r=-1, perfect negative correlation
    r=0, no correlation
  • The coefficient of correlation is independent of the origin and scale.By origin, it means subtracting any non-zero constant from the given value of X and Y the vale of “r” remains unchanged. By scale it means, there is no effect on the value of “r” if the value of X and Y is divided or multiplied by any constant.
  • The coefficient of correlation is a geometric mean of two regression coefficient. Symbolically it is represented as:

topic 3.2.jpg

  • The coefficient of correlation is “ zero” when the variables X and Y are independent. But, however, the converse is not true.

Assumptions of Karl Pearson’s Coefficient of Correlation

1. The relationship between the variables is “Linear”, which means when the two variables are plotted, a straight line is formed by the points plotted.

2. There are a large number of independent causes that affect the variables under study so as to form a Normal Distribution. Such as, variables like price, demand, supply, etc. are affected by such factors that the normal distribution is formed.

3. The variables are independent of each other.                                     

Note: The coefficient of correlation measures not only the magnitude of correlation but also tells the direction. Such as, r = -0.67, which shows correlation is negative because the sign is “-“ and the magnitude is 0.67.


Spearman rank correlation is a non-parametric test that is used to measure the degree of association between two variables.  The Spearman rank correlation test does not carry any assumptions about the distribution of the data and is the appropriate correlation analysis when the variables are measured on a scale that is at least ordinal.

The Spearman correlation between two variables is equal to the Pearson correlation between the rank values of those two variables; while Pearson’s correlation assesses linear relationships, Spearman’s correlation assesses monotonic relationships (whether linear or not). If there are no repeated data values, a perfect Spearman correlation of +1 or −1 occurs when each of the variables is a perfect monotone function of the other.

Intuitively, the Spearman correlation between two variables will be high when observations have a similar (or identical for a correlation of 1) rank (i.e. relative position label of the observations within the variable: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.) between the two variables, and low when observations have a dissimilar (or fully opposed for a correlation of −1) rank between the two variables.

The following formula is used to calculate the Spearman rank correlation:

topic 3.3.jpg

ρ= Spearman rank correlation

di= the difference between the ranks of corresponding variables

n= number of observations


The assumptions of the Spearman correlation are that data must be at least ordinal and the scores on one variable must be monotonically related to the other variable.


1 Comment »

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: