The survey is the most common method by which sociologists gather their data. The Gallup poll is perhaps the
most well-known example of a survey and, like all surveys, gathers its data with the help of a questionnaire that is
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given to a group of respondents. The Gallup poll is an example of a survey conducted by a private organization,
but sociologists do their own surveys, as does the government and many organizations in addition to Gallup.
Many surveys are administered to respondents who are randomly chosen and thus constitute a random sample.
In a random sample, everyone in the population (whether it be the whole US population or just the population
of a state or city, all the college students in a state or city or all the students at just one college, etc.) has the
same chance of being included in the survey. The beauty of a random sample is that it allows us to generalize the
results of the sample to the population from which the sample comes. This means that we can be fairly sure of
the behavior and attitudes of the whole US population by knowing the behavior and attitudes of just four hundred
people randomly chosen from that population.