Social Research Glossary


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Citation reference: Harvey, L., 2012-18, Social Research Glossary, Quality Research International,

This is a dynamic glossary and the author would welcome any e-mail suggestions for additions or amendments. Page updated 24 January, 2018 , © Lee Harvey 2012–2018.


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Confounded variable

core definition

Two variables are said to be confounded if they vary with each other in a systematic way so that it is difficult to tell which of the two is affecting some third variable.

explanatory context

For example, height and weight are larely confounded. There would not be many tall lightweights or short heavyweights and this would make it difficult to sort out their effects unequivocally on a third variable such as boxing ability.


see QRT

analytical review

Colorado State University (1993–2013) defines confounding variable as:

An unforeseen, and unaccounted-for variable that jeopardizes reliability and validity of an experiment's outcome.

associated issues


related areas

See also


multivariate analysis



Colorado State University, 1993–2013, Glossary of Key Terms available at, accessed 3 February 2013, still available 14 December 2016.

copyright Lee Harvey 2012–2018

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