The Logic of Statistical Inference: Making Statements About Populations from Sample Statistics
In this chapter, we look at an important dilemma that researchers face in conducting criminal justice research. Although they seek to make statements about populations, generally they collect data on samples drawn from such populations. Statistical inference provides a solution to this dilemma: it allows the researcher to make statements, or inferences, about the characteristics of a population from data collected from a sample drawn from the population. We begin our discussion of statistical inference by explaining the dilemma researchers face in making statements about populations from samples. We then examine the logic of statistical inference and the statistical risks associated with using this logic. You will be introduced to how null and research hypotheses are set up, how risks of error are assessed, and how levels of statistical significance are used to limit this error.