Definition of Descriptive Statistics
(noun) The branch of statistics that describes, organizes, and summarizes quantitative data in a clear and concise way either graphically or numerically.
Example of Descriptive Statistics
- A bar graph depicting the average income of a male from the United States over several decades using data from the Internal Revenue Service.
Descriptive Statistics Pronunciation
Syllabification: de·scrip·tive sta·tis·tics
- American English – /di-skrIp-tiv stuh-tIs-tiks/
- British English – /dis-krIp-tiv stuh-tIs-tiks/
International Phonetic Alphabet
- American English – /dɪˈskrɪptɪv stəˈtɪstɪks/
- British English – /dɪsˈkrɪptɪv stəˈtɪstɪks/
- Descriptive statistics summarizes 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.
- Quantitative Research Resources – Books, Journals, and Helpful Links
- Word origin of “descriptive” and “statistics” – Online Etymology Dictionary: etymonline.com
- control group
- independent variable
- inferential statistics
- random sample
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/).
Cite the Definition of Descriptive Statistics
ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)
Bell, Kenton, ed. 2014. “descriptive statistics.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved March 28, 2023 (https://sociologydictionary.org/descriptive-statistics/).
APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)
descriptive statistics. (2014). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from https://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 March 28, 2023. https://sociologydictionary.org/descriptive-statistics/.
MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)
“descriptive statistics.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2014. Web. 28 Mar. 2023. <https://sociologydictionary.org/descriptive-statistics/>.