What Is An Extraneous Variable And Why Does It Matter?

What is an extraneous variable? It can be hard to identify an extraneous variable in research, but it’s worth identifying one because they could have a significant impact on your research outcomes. I’ll discuss what they are, examples and then show you how to control these unhelpful assumptions by making good decisions based on the right information.

What Is An Extraneous Variable?

An extraneous variable is a variable that is not being tested. It can directly affect the dependent variable of your study. For example, if you were testing how much money you make per hour based on your age, the age of your children would be an extraneous variable. You are not testing whether or not your children affect how much money you make per hour, so in this case, they would be considered extraneous variables to the experiment.

Extraneous Variables are often seen as both good and bad things. By removing them you can see if there really is a correlation between two things and their effect on something else. On the other hand, extraneous variables can help us understand what might happen if we don’t have them in our experiment or test. For example, I live in Colorado where we have very different seasons from one another throughout the year; we have very hot summers and very cold winters! So one season’s weather might affect how well people play sports during that time of year depending on what type of sport it is (basketball vs football).

Why Do Extraneous Variables Matter?

Experts at a dissertation help online company told that when you are conducting a study, extraneous variables can be a source of problems. You need to be aware of these variables, and how they can affect your results.

Extraneous variables are factors that may affect the outcome of your experiment but that aren’t necessarily related to what you are studying. For example, if you wanted to know how exercise affects a person’s ability to learn new skills, then the amount of sleep he or she gets the night before might be an extraneous variable because it does not directly relate to learning ability. However, sleep does affect cognitive performance in general so it could be considered an important factor in this instance.

The thing about extraneous variables is that they can make it more difficult for you to make valid conclusions about your research. If there is an extraneous variable that affects both groups equally and it isn’t controlled for during data collection and analysis, then you won’t see any differences between the two groups even if there are some differences between them.

In this case, you would conclude that there was no effect from exercise on learning ability when in fact there may have been one present; it just wasn’t detected because the data was skewed by another factor that wasn’t being controlled for during testing

How to Control Extraneous Variables?

First of all, you must have a clear idea about different extraneous variables in a particular study.

  • Suppose, you are performing a test in the lab. In this test, you may have to note down the time of day. The time of day is a variable that does not take part in calculations, but it does impact your study. It is very common to observe that the temperature at the test time is necessary to note. Also, you need to calculate results based on the value of temperature. On the other hand, you note the time of day, but it does not work as a dependent or independent variable. It is the best example of an extraneous variable.
  • Another example is the level of anxiety. You can see the anxiety does not contribute to the test calculations, but it can disturb the whole setup. In anxiety, you can lose the accuracy of results. Senior researchers advise controlling this variable by different effective means. You can reduce test anxiety by working under the supervision of your advisor. Also, you can reduce stress in the same way. So, anxiety and stress work as extraneous variables, and you should control them for the best test results.
  • The noise at the time of test can cause drastic changes in your results. Some studies take noise as a dependent variable, but most studies take it as an extraneous variable. You should not ignore it but control it in a constructive way. The noise in surrounding cause pressures in the mind that affect working performance. Also, noise is something that causes high reduction in a good performance. You may have the ability to conduct five tests per day, but noise can cause interruption in it. So, you should control this factor by identifying its cause. If it is the noise of machinery, you can use ear buds for it. If there is a noise of people, you can make a separate section where you can perform alone. Also, you can play music to distract from the annoying surrounding. In this way, you can feel better, and it would be easy to enjoy your work.
  • In medical research, you have to test many animals for different exposures. Suppose, you have to test Rana Tigrina for temperature exposure. In this experiment, the genetic abilities of Rana Tigrina work as an extraneous variable.

What Are Four Types Of Extraneous Variables?

There are four types of this variable,and these are mentioned below:

Situational Variable

All of variables that have a direct link with the environment are taken as situational variables. For example, time of the day, noise and other conditions related to nature. These variables create serious impacts on the performance of a person. In order to control these variables, you should follow testing standards and precautions.

Person Variable

The second type is about the person who is performing in the test. The person variable covers the qualities of a person, including stress, anxiety and interest. Suppose, a person has aquaphobia. The person with aquaphobia would feel nervous about any test performance related to water. So, a person’s nervousness would affect the study’s results.

Investigator Variable

The investigator variable is about the instruction of an investigator. Psychologically, it is proved that a performer would be biased after having instructions from an investigator. The investigator may not be conscious, but his acts affect the attributes of a person.

Demand Variable

In every research, you have to achieve a particular objective. The objective of the study is a thing that indirectly changes the perspective. The researcher focuses on the study aim, and he may try other testing procedures to obtain the designed results. The solution for this problem is to strictly follow the standards of experimentation.

Final Thoughts

The concept of extraneous variables is one that every statistician needs to understand. Understanding extraneous variables can help you avoid conflating correlation with causation, and it will allow you to make better sense of the data your generate when conducting experiments.

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