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Social Sci LibreTexts

8: Sampling

  • Page ID
    26259
  • Sampling is the statistical process of selecting a subset (called a “sample”) of a population of interest for purposes of making observations and statistical inferences about that population. Social science research is generally about inferring patterns of behaviors within specific populations. We cannot study entire populations because of feasibility and cost constraints, and hence, we must select a representative sample from the population of interest for observation and analysis. It is extremely important to choose a sample that is truly representative of the population so that the inferences derived from the sample can be generalized back to the population of interest. Improper and biased sampling is the primary reason for often divergent and erroneous inferences reported in opinion polls and exit polls conducted by different polling groups such as CNN/Gallup Poll, ABC, and CBS, prior to every U.S. Presidential elections.