Glossary of Statistical Terms: Definition Representativeness

If we can draw accurate conclusions about a population from a sample, we speak of representativeness. In a narrower sense, a sample is representative, if all of the elements in a population had the same chance to be part of the sample (see also selectivity).

Representativeness alone is not a sufficient quality feature of a statistic though. For the purpose of a thorough analysis one should also pay attention to the margin of error as well as the confidence level of an investigation. Both values can be improved by increasing the size of a sample.

Generally, the term representativeness is often used to indicate that a sample mirrors a population, reflecting all essential properties of the population in a correct way. In a stricter sense, since this can never be fully verified, the use of the word representativeness is not true.

Please note that the definitions in our statistics encyclopedia are simplified explanations of terms. Our goal is to make the definitions accessible for a broad audience; thus it is possible that some definitions do not adhere entirely to scientific standards.

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