What is Purposive Sampling? How to Use it in Research?

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Every researcher has to do sampling for conducting research and data collection. So, it is essential for researchers to know about different kinds of sampling techniques. One of the important sampling techniques is purposive sampling. This article will tell you everything you need to know about purposive sampling.

What Is A Purposive Sample In Research?

A purposive sample refers to a judgemental or subjective sample. It is often referred to as a non-probability sample. The primary aim of a purposive sample is to select a sample that represents particular traits of a population. Researchers have to rely on their judgement for purposive sampling. They apply their expert knowledge about the population and choose the sample in a non-probable manner. Researchers rely on their judgment for choosing the sample because they think it will save their time and money. Prior knowledge and expertise about the chosen population are important for researchers.

What Is The Purpose Of Purposive Sampling?

Purposive sampling’s major purpose is to focus on specific features of a population. By focusing on the specific traits of a population, researchers can effectively answer their research questions. Purposive sampling is different from other sampling techniques, such as random sampling. Random sampling utilises probability techniques to collect a sample. A purposive sample is also different from stratified random sampling. A purposive sample does not aim to choose certain elements of a population randomly. It does not seek to make generalizations based on statistical inferences. Probability sampling is frequent in quantitative research studies.

A purposive sample is frequent in qualitative studies or a mixed-method approach. The sample under investigation does not represent the entire population. It is a conscious choice of researchers determined by their research questions. For example, researchers select samples based on homogenous characteristics. In some cases, researchers go for critical case sampling. It helps in finding out whether the phenomenon under investigation exists or not. A purposive sample allows the researchers to collect a lot of data about a particular phenomenon.

How Do You Use Purposive Sampling In Research?

Researchers can use purposive sampling in research in the following manner:

Heterogeneous Sampling

Researchers can use heterogeneous purposive samples to ascertain the following:

  • Gather a wide variety of instances relevant to the research problem or research questions
  • Collect as much information as possible about the phenomenon under investigation
  • For example, if researchers want to conduct survey research on people’s political opinions, they would speak to a lot of people from various backgrounds to gather insights

Homogenous Sampling

Homogenous sampling is another technique utilised by researchers in a purposive sample. It aims to achieve the following objectives:

  • Gather data from a group of people that have the similar and shared attributes
  • Collect data from a group of people with the same background. They can be similar in terms of age, gender, social background, language, and ethnicity
  • Researchers choose this technique when their research questions are tailored to examine the particular traits of a particular group of people

Typical Case Sampling

Researchers can also use the typical case sampling for purposive samples. It serves the following purposes:

  • It helps to gather insights about a particular phenomenon. Researchers select “typical” or average members of the population
  • If a researcher wants to investigate how a particular drug has an impact on the chosen population, then the best approach will be to select the ordinary people

Deviant Case Sampling

Deviant case sampling for purposive samples is helpful for researchers in the following cases:

  • If the focus of the researchers is those instances that are unique or extraordinary, usually in terms of significant results, failures or achievement
  • Investigating the extreme cases helps researchers gather insights about a particular phenomenon
  • It can help contribute towards future research and practise

Critical Case Sampling             

Academic researchers can also use the technique of critical case sampling to achieve the following outcomes:

  • Researchers select one critical case for examination to yield insights into a phenomenon
  • Researchers select a particular case for investigating a phenomenon. They try to apply the results to broader situations logically

Total Population Sampling

When a researcher uses total population sampling, he or she decides to look at the overall population that shares one or more traits. This kind of purposive sample technique is useful to elicit assessments of occurrences by studying specific group of population. There are best dissertation proposal writing services available that can help in total population sampling.

Expert Sampling

Researchers can also utilise expert sampling to gather knowledge about a phenomenon requiring expert knowledge. The researcher can utilise this technique to gain more familiarity bout the topic under investigation. Researchers often employ this method in the early stages of Research. It can help in formulating research questions and research design.

How Do You Use The Purposive Sampling Example?

One example in this regard is that before launching a new clothing brand, a clothing company conducts pilot testing to gather feedback from the market. The researcher chooses expert fashion designers for the sample population to provide valuable feedback for product designs.

Another example is a country embarking on implementing renewable energy in the country. The Government researchers will handpick the experts in renewable energy who can provide relevant information for the research.

What Is The Difference Between Convenience And Purposive Sampling?

“Purposive sampling” and “convenient sampling” are frequently used simultaneously. But these two terms are not synonymous. Researchers use convenience sampling when the purpose is to identify and approach people conveniently. For example, in convenience sampling, researchers will select those people who are geographically closer to them. In another case, it could be those familiar with the researchers. Convenience sampling is more frequent in quantitative studies.

Purposive sampling occurs when researchers carefully consider how they will create a sample population. Even if the chosen sample is statistically unrepresentative of the larger population, researchers chose this community on purpose. They believe these people suit the profile of the people they need to target. The purposive sample technique is more frequent in qualitative studies. The findings from this kind of sample are not statistically representative of the larger population. But researchers can qualitatively generalize the findings from purposive samples.


A purposive sample is useful when the researcher wants to utilise various sampling techniques. It is beneficial for qualitative studies that encompass multiple stages, and researchers can use various techniques of purposive samples to gather insights.

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