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Replies: 3   Last Post: Nov 8, 2010 4:46 PM

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 Andrew Bressette Posts: 16 Registered: 7/27/10
Posted: Nov 8, 2010 12:18 PM

There are a few sure fire distinctions between the two. With that being said, Wikipedia clearly defines them as synonyms so I think it'd be a stretch to say they are completely distinct.

1) Lurking variables most commonly plague studies while confounding variables are more commonly an issue in experimentation.

2) A lurking variable is a third variable that has a causal relationship with the two variables being studied. This hidden variable makes it seem there may be a causal relationship between the two otherwise unrelated variables. (Though of course causation could never be concluded from a study.)
A Confounding variable is a third variable that is associated with the treatment in a non-causal way but whose existence makes it impossible to determine if the treatment or the confounding variable was causing any change in the response variable. Notice how this definition shifts us into the realm of experimental design as noted above.

A common example of confounding variables in experimentation has to do with the passing of time, the changing of seasons, temperatures and such. If an experiment goes on over an extended period of time (months perhaps) we always run the risk of time being a confounding variable. The seasons/temperatures are not related to the treatments in a causal way but are associated and certainly could be causing any change we see in the response variable.

Hope this helped more than it confused.
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