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Cross-Sectional Study

Edited by: Published: 2005 | 3rd Edition
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A study conducted at a single point in time by, so to speak, taking a “slice” (a cross section) of a population at a particular time. Compare ∗panel study, ∗longitudinal study, ∗cohort-sequential design.

Cross-sectional studies provide only indirect evidence about the effects of time and must be used with great caution when drawing conclusions about change. For example, if a cross-sectional survey shows that respondents aged 60–65 are more likely to be racially prejudiced than respondents aged 20–25, this does not necessarily mean that as the younger group ages it will become more prejudiced—nor does it necessarily mean that the older group was once less prejudiced.


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