Manual Drawing Inferences From Self-selected Samples

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In , people who owned cars and telephones tended to be more affluent. Undercoverage is often a problem with convenience samples. The Literary Digest experience illustrates a common problem with mail surveys. Response rate is often low, making mail surveys vulnerable to nonresponse bias. Random sampling is a procedure for sampling from a population in which a the selection of a sample unit is based on chance and b every element of the population has a known, non-zero probability of being selected. Random sampling helps produce representative samples by eliminating voluntary response bias and guarding against undercoverage bias.

All probability sampling methods rely on random sampling. A poor measurement process can also lead to bias. In survey research, the measurement process includes the environment in which the survey is conducted, the way that questions are asked, and the state of the survey respondent. Response bias refers to the bias that results from problems in the measurement process. Some examples of response bias are given below. A survey produces a sample statistic, which is used to estimate a population parameter.

If you repeated a survey many times, using different samples each time, you might get a different sample statistic with each replication. And each of the different sample statistics would be an estimate for the same population parameter.

If the statistic is unbiased, the average of all the statistics from all possible samples will equal the true population parameter; even though any individual statistic may differ from the population parameter. The variability among statistics from different samples is called sampling error. Increasing the sample size tends to reduce the sampling error; that is, it makes the sample statistic less variable. However, increasing sample size does not affect survey bias. A large sample size cannot correct for the methodological problems undercoverage, nonresponse bias, etc.

The Literary Digest example discussed above illustrates this point. The sample size was very large. Steven P.

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