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Sampling Error

  1. David DeMatteo1,
  2. Michael Keesler2

Published Online: 30 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0813

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

How to Cite

DeMatteo, D. and Keesler, M. 2010. Sampling Error. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1–2.

Author Information

  1. 1

    Drexel University

  2. 2

    Drexel University and Villanova University School of Law

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 JAN 2010


Sampling error is the difference between the value of a sample statistic and the corresponding parameter in the population from which the sample was drawn. The idea behind sampling error is that a chosen sample typically does not provide a perfectly accurate representation of the population from which it was selected. The discrepancy, or “error,” between a measurement computed for a sample (which is known as a statistic) and the actual value in the population (which is known as a parameter) is referred to as sampling error. In this context, the term error is nonpejorative and refers to the inherent variability found in different samples taken from the same population.


  • standard error;
  • inferential statistics;
  • random selection;
  • external validity;
  • law of large numbers