(*noun*) The branch of statistics that describes, organizes, and summarizes quantitative data in a clear and concise way either graphically or numerically.

**Example:** A bar graph depicting the average income of a male from the United States over several decades using data from the Internal Revenue Service.

**Audio Pronunciation: **(de·scrip·tive sta·tis·tics)

**Download Audio Pronunciation:** descriptive statistics.mp3

**Usage Notes:**

- Descriptive statistics summarize data by graphing or using numbers.
- Descriptive statistics differs from inferential statistics in that descriptive statistics summarize a sample and inferential statistics uses the sample to make extrapolations about the larger population the sample represents.

**Additional Information:**

- Quantitative Research Resources – Books, Journals, and Helpful Links
- Word origin of “descriptive” and “statistics” – Online Etymology Dictionary: etymonline.com

**Related Terms:**

- attribute
- cohort
- control group
- correlation
- data
- demography
- independent variable
- inferential statistics
- random sample
- reliability
- statistics

**Works Consulted**

Babbie, Earl. 2013. *The Practice of Social Research*. 13th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Bryman, Alan. 2012. *Social Research Methods*. 4th ed. New York: Oxford University Press.

Burdess, Neil. 2010. *Starting Statistics: A Short, Clear Guide*. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

Cramer, Duncan, and Dennis Howitt. 2004. *The SAGE Dictionary of Statistics: A Practical Resource for Students in the Social Sciences*. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

Farlex. (N.d.) *TheFreeDictionary.com: Dictionary, Encyclopedia and Thesaurus*. Farlex. (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/).

Fioramonti, Lorenzo. 2014. *How Numbers Rule the World: The Use and Abuse of Statistics in Global Politics*. London: Zed Books.

Larson, Ron, and Elizabeth Farber. 2015. *Elementary Statistics: Picturing the World*. 6th ed. Boston: Pearson.

Oxford University Press. (N.d.)* Oxford Dictionaries*. (https://www.oxforddictionaries.com/).

Salkind, Neil J., ed. 2007. *Encyclopedia of Measurement and Statistics*. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

Stolley, Kathy S. 2005. *The Basics of Sociology*. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

Taylor & Francis. (N.d.) *Routledge Handbooks Online*. (https://www.routledgehandbooks.com/).

Weinstein, Jay A. 2010. *Applying Social Statistics: An Introduction to Quantitative Reasoning in Sociology*. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

Wikipedia contributors. (N.d.)* Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia*. Wikimedia Foundation. (https://en.wikipedia.org/).

Wiley. (N.d.) *Wiley Online Library*. (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/).

**How to Cite the Definition of Descriptive Statistics**

ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2014. “descriptive statistics.” In * Open Education Sociology Dictionary*. Retrieved May 19, 2019 (http://sociologydictionary.org/descriptive-statistics/).

APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)

descriptive statistics. (2014). In K. Bell (Ed.), *Open education sociology dictionary*. Retrieved from http://sociologydictionary.org/descriptive-statistics/

Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2014. “descriptive statistics.” In* Open Education Sociology Dictionary*. Accessed May 19, 2019. http://sociologydictionary.org/descriptive-statistics/.

MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)

“descriptive statistics.” *Open Education Sociology Dictionary*. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2014. Web. 19 May. 2019. <http://sociologydictionary.org/descriptive-statistics/>.