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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

  • Syllabification: (lon·gi·tu·di·nal stu·dy)

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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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 August 21, 2019 (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 August 21, 2019. 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. 21 Aug. 2019. <https://sociologydictionary.org/longitudinal-study/>.