Conceptual Meaning and Spuriousness in Ratio Correlations: The Case of Restaurant Tipping1


  • 1

    An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 1988 Midwestern Psychological Association Convention.


Ratios of one variable over another are frequently used in social psychological research in order to control for a linear relationship between the numerator and the denominator. However, the use of ratio variables can introduce spuriousness into data analyses. This article provides a description and explanation of the problem of spuriousness in ratio correlations and it illustrates this problem with research on restaurant tipping.