Q: What is the difference between "related to", "correlated to" and "associated with"?

Detailed Question -

How to distinguish the terms "related to", "correlated to" and "associated with" while writing the methods and results section? How to use them appropriately and effectively?

1 Answer to this question

Thank you for your question!

As you’ve identified, the difference between these three phrases is based on their describing three distinct types of relationships. “Related to” suggests that there is a direct relationship between two entities or two variables, but does not specify the nature of this relationship—this phrase is only an acknowledgement that a direct relationship exists. “Associated with” refers to a more general and unspecified relationship, which could be direct or indirect.

In contrast, “correlated to” or “correlated with” is a descriptor for a specific type of statistical relationship between two variables wherein the magnitude of one has a quantifiable and predictable effect on the magnitude of the other. “Correlated with” is sometimes used colloquially to refer to non-statistical relationships, but this is strictly speaking incorrect, and the phrase should be reserved to describe this specific type of relationship.

I hope this is helpful and lets you make more precise word choices in your writing!