I want to control for the effects of confounds in an observational study (using self-report questionnaires), however, I do not want to imply a causal relationship between my two constructs. Therefore, I am unsure if I can conduct a regression without inferring causality, and so I do not know how to control for confounds if I am only running a Pearson's r.
Let's say I'm looking at emotional awareness (construct 1) and empathy (construct 2). It could be assumed that greater emotional awareness may correspond to increased levels of empathy; however, this is not necessarily supported in the literature.
I want to analyse the strength (and presence) of a relationship using Pearson's r, but I also want to then control for the possible (and likely) effect of sex and age using a regression. Trouble is, both emotional awareness and empathy are independent variables...can I treat empathy as a dependent variable without impacting statistical validity?
Thankyou for any responses! I'm new to statistics.