A representative sample is a subset of individuals from a larger population whose characteristics (e.g., sex, race/ethnicity/education level) are similar to those of that population. The extent to which the results from a research study can be generalized to the larger population depends on how accurately the distribution of characteristics in the sample mirror the distribution of the same characteristics in the population. For example, if a researcher wanted a representative sample of 30 students from a university that reported 50% of their students identified as female, then their sample should have close to 15 females. If their sample contained 25 females, this would not accurately reflect the distribution in the population. Such an inaccuracy would be considered sampling error, or sample bias. As ...

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