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the selection of part of a total population of consumers or products whose behaviour or performance can be analysed, in order to make inferences about the behaviour or performance of the total population, without the difficulty and expense of undertaking a complete census of the whole population.

Samples may be chosen randomly, with every consumer or product in the population having an equal chance of being included. Random samples are most commonly used by firms in QUALITY CONTROL where they are used as a basis for selecting products, components or materials for quality testing.

Alternatively, samples may be chosen by dividing up the total population into a number of distinct sub-groups or strata, then selecting a proportionate number of consumers or products from each sub-group since this is quicker and cheaper than random sampling. In MARKETING RESEARCH and opinion polling, quota sampling is usually employed where interviewers select the particular consumers to be interviewed, choosing the numbers of these consumers in proportion to their occurrence in the total population.

Samples may be:

  1. cross-sectional, where sample observations are collected at a particular point in time, for example data on company sales and the incomes of consumers in the current year, embracing a wide range of different income groups, as a basis for investigating the relationship between sales and income;
  2. longitudinal, where sample observations are collected over a number of time periods, for example data on changes in company sales over a number of years and changes in consumer incomes over the same time periods, as a basis for investigating the relationship between sales and income. See STATISTICAL INFERENCES, QUESTIONNAIRE.
Collins Dictionary of Business, 3rd ed. © 2002, 2005 C Pass, B Lowes, A Pendleton, L Chadwick, D O’Reilly and M Afferson
References in periodicals archive ?
Indeed, social scientists treat probability sampling as required even for research of much less significance.
A good example of probability sampling technique is simple random selection.
From these studies, it is clear that haphazard sampling cannot be expected to reliably emulate equal probability sampling. Rather, haphazard samples appear likely to exhibit multiple, and perhaps unknown, selection biases.
Most significantly, the CES survey has been based on a quota sample since its inception, which predated the introduction of probability sampling as the internationally recognized standard for sample surveys.
Full probability sampling from the National Opinion Research Center national probability sample was used for the survey years utilized in this study.
By sampling design, we mean the design of probability sampling. Thus, let's look at a few of the more commonly used designs and evaluate each in terms of its reliability and efficiency.
Pinkus lamented that Internet polls are unscientific, assuring neither random nor probability sampling designed to provide universal opportunity to answer.
For this reason, even though I unequivocally advocate the theoretical superiority of probability sampling, I also assume that its standards should be adjustable to meet the realities of specific times and places.
(5) Furthermore, the defects of Kinsey's own work are widely known-among them the lack of probability sampling and the disproportionate recruitment of respondents from college campuses and the Midwest.
There are a number of probability sampling strategies, particularly applicable to tree characteristics, that have been used but scantly in ecological field studies.

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