What are the differences between confounding and extraneous variables?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

To understand this difference, we must first define an extraneous variable. There are three primary types of variables in an experiment: dependent, independent, and extraneous. The independent variable is changed to study the resulting change in dependent variable. However, extraneous variables also will impact the dependent variable. For instance, when studying shark bite rates by month, an extraneous variable would be the temperature of the water—because less people would be likely to be in the water and therefore be bit.

A confounding variable is a type of extraneous variable, but it additionally will change along with the independent variable. In the situation above, water temperature will fluctuate with month, so it is intricately linked with the independent variable and is therefore a confounding variable.

A confounding variable is one kind of extraneous variable.

In an...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 415 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team