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inferential statistics

Definition of Inferential Statistics

(noun) The branch of statistics that makes generalizations about a population using data from a sample.

Example of Inferential Statistics

  • Determining the percentage of students at a university that like vanilla ice cream by sampling several classes in multiple departments.

Inferential Statistics Pronunciation

  • IPA Pronunciation
    • American English
      • /ɪnfəˈrɛnʃəl stəˈtɪstɪks/
    • British English
      • /ɪnfəˈrɛnʃəl stəˈtɪstɪks/
  • Syllabification: (in·fer·en·tial sta·tis·tics)

Usage Notes

  • Inferential statistics uses probability to determine the level of confidence in conclusions drawn from data and called an inference.
  • In contrast to inferential statistics, descriptive statistics summarize a sample and inferential statistics uses the sample to make extrapolations about the larger population the sample represents.
  • Also called:
    • inductive statistics
    • statistical inference

Additional Information

Related Terms


Cite the Definition of Inferential Statistics

ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2014. “inferential statistics.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved September 18, 2019 (https://sociologydictionary.org/inferential-statistics/).

APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)

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

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

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2014. “inferential statistics.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed September 18, 2019. https://sociologydictionary.org/inferential-statistics/.

MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)

“inferential statistics.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2014. Web. 18 Sep. 2019. <https://sociologydictionary.org/inferential-statistics/>.