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There are two main ways to find the correlation coefficient: manually using the formula or using a spreadsheet program.

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Finding the Correlation Coefficient Manually:

The correlation coefficient, denoted by the symbol "r", is calculated using the following formula:

r = ( Σ(xy) ) / (√(Σx² * Σy²))


  • Σ (sigma) represents the sum of all the values.
  • x and y are the corresponding data points for each variable.
  • Σxy is the sum of the product of each x value and its corresponding y value (x multiplied by y for each pair).
  • Σx² is the sum of all the squared x values (each x value squared).
  • Σy² is the sum of all the squared y values (each y value squared).

Here's a step-by-step process to find the correlation coefficient manually:

  1. Prepare your data: Have your data points for both variables (x and y) organized in separate lists or columns.
  2. Calculate products and squares: Multiply each x value with its corresponding y value (xy) and create a new list for these products. Then, square each x value (x²) and each y value (y²) and create separate lists for these squared values.
  3. Sum the columns: Find the sum (Σ) of each column: Σx, Σy, Σxy, Σx², and Σy².
  4. Apply the formula: Plug the calculated sums into the formula r = ( Σ(xy) ) / (√(Σx² * Σy²)) and solve for r.

Finding the Correlation Coefficient with a Spreadsheet Program:

Most spreadsheet programs like Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets have built-in functions to calculate the correlation coefficient. Here's a general process (specific steps might vary slightly depending on the program):

  1. Input your data: Enter your data points for both variables (x and y) into separate columns in your spreadsheet.
  2. Use the CORREL function: Locate the function for calculating the correlation coefficient. In Excel, it's the CORREL function, and in Google Sheets, it's also called CORREL.
  3. Provide cell references: Within the function arguments, specify the cell ranges containing your x data and y data. The function will automatically calculate the correlation coefficient based on your data.


  • The correlation coefficient value falls between -1 and +1.
    • A positive value indicates a positive correlation (as one variable increases, the other tends to increase as well).
    • A negative value indicates a negative correlation (as one variable increases, the other tends to decrease).
    • A value close to 0 indicates little to no correlation.

If you're working with a smaller dataset or prefer a manual approach, calculating the correlation coefficient by hand can be a good learning experience. However, for larger datasets or repetitive calculations, using a spreadsheet program is much faster and more efficient.

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