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What Is a Random Sample?


Young People exchanging ideas during meeting
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A random sample is a subset of individuals that are randomly selected from a population. Because researchers usually cannot obtain data from every single person in a group, a smaller portion is randomly selected to represent the entire group as a whole. The goal is to obtain a sample that is representative of the larger population.

For example, imagine that a market research company is interested in learning more about what type of dish soap people use. Instead of polling every single person, they will select a random sample of individuals and question them about the type of soap they use. By using a randomized sample, they get a clearer idea of what likely exists in the population at large.

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