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longitudinal study

Definition of Longitudinal Study

(noun) A study that collects data on the same units of analysis at two or more time periods, or from comparable units of analysis across different age cohorts at one point in time, with the primary aim of observing phenomena over time.

Examples of Longitudinal Study

Longitudinal Study Pronunciation

Pronunciation Usage Guide

Syllabification: lon·gi·tu·di·nal stu·dy

Audio Pronunciation

– American English
– British English

Phonetic Spelling

  • American English – /lahn-juh-tOO-duh-nuhl stUHd-ee/
  • British English – /lon-ji-tyOO-duh-nuhl stUHd-ee/

International Phonetic Alphabet

  • American English – /ˌlɑnʤəˈtudənəl ˈstʌdi/
  • British English – /ˌlɒnʤɪˈtjuːdɪnl ˈstʌdi/

Usage Notes

  • Plural: longitudinal studies
  • Longitudinal studies are typically expensive over a long span of time and require the long-term commitment of researchers and subjects.
  • Attrition affects longitudinal studies. To negate the affects of attrition, the initial sample size must be quite large, which causes added expense and time.
  • Participating in a longitudinal study can affect an individual’s behavior and affect the validity of the sample as representative of the population, a phenomenon called the Hawthorne Effect.
  • A cross-sectional study is the opposite of a longitudinal study. The primary advantage of a longitudinal study over a cross-sectional study is that a causal relationship can be determined by longitudinal data but not by cross-sectional data, therefore, can track change. A cross-sequential study combines longitudinal and cross-sectional studies.

Additional Information

Related Terms

Contributor: C. E. Seaman

Works Consulted

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Kimmel, Michael S., and Amy Aronson. 2012. Sociology Now. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

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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.

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 Longitudinal Survey

ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)

Seaman, C. E. 2015. “longitudinal study.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary, edited by Kenton Bell. Retrieved May 23, 2024 (https://sociologydictionary.org/longitudinal-study/).

APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)

Seaman, C. E. (2015). longitudinal study. In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from https://sociologydictionary.org/longitudinal-study/

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

Seaman, C. E. 2015. “longitudinal study.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary, edited by Kenton Bell. Accessed May 23, 2024. https://sociologydictionary.org/longitudinal-study/.

MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)

Seaman, C. E. “longitudinal study.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2015. Web. 23 May. 2024. <https://sociologydictionary.org/longitudinal-study/>.