The terms sample and population are sometimes used interchangeably; however, they are actually different. A population or universe represents all of the people or texts with certain characteristics a researcher would like to study. Examples of common populations for communication research consist of undergraduate students, people in romantic relationships, divorced couples, and working adults to name only a few. It would be difficult if not impossible to directly observe all undergraduate students, people in romantic relationships, divorced couples, and/or working adults so it is necessary to determine a smaller subset of the population to observe. This smaller subset of the larger population is called a sample. This entry discusses the basics of samples and populations along with different types of sampling procedures.
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