Modal Instance Sampling

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What is Modal Instance Sampling?

modal instance sampling
The mode is the most common (most typical) item in a set.
The purpose of modal instance sampling is to sample the most typical members of a population. The term modal comes from the mode, which is the most common item in a set.


One problem with modal instance sampling is identifying what is the most “typical” member of a set. The most common shoe size would be pretty easy to figure out from sales data, but the typical voter would be more difficult to identify. You could use an average age, average wage level or some other kind of average criteria, but that may not really give you a typical voter — just one that meets that particular criterion. Other factors like religion and ethnicity affect voting habits, as well as other hidden variables that you may not have thought of.

As modal instance sampling is very difficult to implement fairly, it is only recommended as a method for informal questionnaires or surveys. For example, newscasters might interview a typical voter, or a typical resident, or even residents of a typical neighborhood.

Other Uses for Modal Instance Sampling

Modal instance sampling can be used to plan new programs and products. For example, Aitken et. al (2004) used modal instance sampling to survey the typical All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) user — adolescent males attending rural community schools. The purpose of the survey was to develop educational strategies to improve safety. By the same manner, this type of sampling could also be used to investigate new products. The “typical” customer could provide valuable feedback on what they think about potential new product lines,

Aitken, M. et. al. All-terrain vehicle injury in children: strategies for prevention. Inj Prev. 2004 Oct;10(5):303-7.

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