Population vs Sample – Difference and Comparison

What is Population?

A population is a group of people who share the same characteristics. But it is not only people that researchers study. Animals, plants, and any other elements researchers get an interest in also undergo research and are referred to as populations as well.

In other words, in research, population refers to a large group from which a researcher can get a subset to study for whatever reason. However, for this article, we shall concentrate on human populations.

The population may be large, like the population of your town, or it may be smaller, like the population of a sports team. A population refers to a group of people who have something in common which can be studied to verify or disprove the assumption.

A population can be chosen based on any parameter. Such parameters include country of origin, travel destinations, geographic locations, employment, and economic activity.

It is not possible to study an entire group because of the huge numbers involved and the accompanying cost implications. A small section is normally selected as a representation of the group.

What is Sample?

A sample is a small section of a population taken from a larger group. It is representative of the larger group. There are three types of samples that researchers use in their studies; random, stratified, and non-probability.

A random sample is chosen at random from the entire group, with no bias. Stratified samples are drawn from the larger group based on one or more characteristics. In non-probability sampling, the samples are selected based on a subjective criterion.

When researchers talk about samples, they are not talking about the main group being studied but rather the subset of that group. In this way, a sample has to be much smaller than the population.

For example, if there are 100 people in a school, and 20 of them are chosen for a particular characteristic, 20 are considered a sample, as only 20 of them have the characteristic.

A sample makes it easier and cost-effective to do research on various objects or even groups of people because only a small representation is needed to draw conclusions about the whole group.

Difference Between Population and Sample

A population is a general group of all elements or objects with characteristics that people want to study. This group can be from humans, animals, plants, or none living items. Research goes on all the time, and different reasons motivate researchers to choose which populations to study.

A sample is a division of a population that is separated for a particular study in order to answer a predetermined set of questions that a researcher has or to solve a problem in society.

Comparison Between Population and Sample

Parameter of ComparisonPopulationSample
SizeIt is the bigger group from which a sample is taken.It is the smaller group taken out of a population.
ParticipationIt is the target group but does not participate in the research.It is the group that participates in the research to represent the big group or the rest of the population.
ScopeIt is the whole group that is of interest.It is the subset of the total.
PurposeIt facilitates the researcher to get a specific group for further study.It is the group studied to get answers to questions that researchers have.
Type 6It can be anything of interest.It has to be representative of a particular population.