Probability Sample Files (PSF)

The PSF is a subset of eHRAF World Cultures and a special kind of random sample called a stratified random sample. For the PSF sample the world was divided into 60 culture areas (strata) and one case from each area was randomly chosen from a list of societies that met certain data quality control criteria (such as whether one of the ethnographers stayed for more than a year and claimed to be fluent in the native language).

All 60 of the PSF cases are included in the paper, microfiche, and online versions of the HRAF Collection of Ethnography. For the rules used in selecting the sample cases, see Naroll, Raoul. 1967. The proposed HRAF Probability Sample. Behavior Science Notes (now Cross-Cultural Research) 2: 70-80.

The 60 culture sample too large for your purposes? Randomly select a smaller number of societies (at least 20 are recommended).

In eHRAF World Cultures a search query can be refined by sample and subsistence type.  This is done after a search in the culture results page.


Subsistence and sample types in eHRAF's results page

Subsistence and sample types in eHRAF’s results page



AfricaEastern AfricaOkiekFL20hunter-gatherers
AfricaWestern AfricaAkanFE12horticulturalists
AfricaEastern AfricaAmharaMP05intensive agriculturalists
AsiaSouth AsiaAndamansAZ02hunter-gatherers
South AmericaCentral AndesAymaraSF05horticulturalists
AfricaCentral AfricaAzandeFO07horticulturalists
South AmericaEastern South AmericaBahia BraziliansSO11intensive agriculturalists
AfricaSouthern AfricaBembaFQ05horticulturalists
North AmericaPlains and PlateauBlackfootNF06hunter-gatherers
South AmericaEastern South AmericaBororoSP08hunter-gatherers
AsiaSoutheast AsiaCentral ThaiAO07intensive agriculturalists
AsiaNorth AsiaChukcheeRY02pastoralists
OceaniaMicronesiaChuukOR19other subsistence combinations
North AmericaArctic and SubarcticCopper InuitND08hunter-gatherers
North America Plains and PlateauCrowNQ10hunter-gathers
AfricaWestern AfricaDogonFA16intensive agriculturalists
AsiaSoutheast AsiaEastern TorajaOG11horticulturalists
North AmericaEastern WoodlandsFoxNP05other subsistence combinations
AfricaEastern AfricaGandaFK07intensive agriculturalists
AsiaSouth AsiaGaroAR05horticulturalists
South AmericaEastern South AmericaGuaraníSM04other subsistence combinations
AfricaWestern AfricaHausaMS12other subsistence combinations
EuropeBritish IslesHighland ScotsES10other subsistence combinations
North AmericaSouthwest and BasinHopiNT09intensive agriculturalists
AsiaSoutheast AsiaIbanOC06horticulturalists
AsiaSoutheast AsiaIfugaoOA19intensive agriculturalists
North AmericaEastern WoodlandsIroquoisNM09horticulturalists
AfricaWestern AfricaKanuriMS14intensive agriculturalists
OceaniaMelanesiaKapaukuOJ29intensive agriculturalists
AsiaSouth AsiaKhasiAR07other subsistence combinations
North AmericaPlains and PlateauKlamathNR10hunter-gatherers
South AmericaNorthwestern South AmericaKogiSC07horticulturalists
AsiaSouth AsiaKolAW37intensive agriculturalists
AsiaEast AsiaKoreaAA01intensive agriculturalists
Middle America and the CaribbeanCentral AmericaKunaSB05horticulturalists
Middle EastMiddle EastKurdsMA11pastoralists
OceaniaPolynesiaLau FijiansOQ06other subsistence combinations
AfricaNorthern AfricaLibyan BedouinMT09pastoralists
AfricaSouthern AfricaLoziFQ09other subsistence combinations
AfricaEastern AfricaMaasaiFL12pastoralists
South AmericaSouthern South AmericaMatacoSI07primarily hunter-gatherers
AfricaCentral AfricaMbutiFO04hunter-gatherers
North AmericaArctic and SubarcticOjibwaNG06hunter-gatherers
South AmericaSouthern South AmericaOnaSH04hunter-gatherers
North AmericaPlains and PlateauPawneeNQ18primarily hunter-gatherers
South AmericaCentral AndesPuméSS19intensive agriculturalists
AsiaSouth AsiaSantalAW42intensive agriculturalists
South AmericaAmazon and OrinocoSaramakaSR15other subsistence combinations
EuropeSoutheastern EuropeSerbsEF06intensive agriculturalists
AfricaNorthern AfricaShluhMW11intensive agriculturalists
AsiaSouth AsiaSinhaleseAX04intensive agriculturalists
AfricaEastern AfricaSomaliMO04pastoralists
AsiaEast AsiaTaiwan HokkienAD05intensive agriculturalists
Middle America and the CaribbeanNorthern MexicoTarahumaraNU33agro-pastoralists
AfricaWestern AfricaTivFF57horticulturalists
North AmericaNorthwest Coast and CaliforniaTlingitNA12hunter-gatherers
South AmericaAmazon and OrinocoTukanoSQ19other subsistence combinations
Middle America and the CaribbeanMaya AreaTzeltalNV09horticulturalists
South AmericaAmazon and OrinocoUru-ChipayaSF24 other subsistence combinations
AfricaWestern AfricaWolofMS30horticulturalists
AsiaNorth AsiaYakutRV02other subsistence combinations
South AmericaAmazon and OrinocoYanoamaSQ18horticulturalists

60 Culture PSF in Excel Format and PDF Format:

Classification of the Major Form of Subsistence  (for the cultures in eHRAF World Cultures)

Hunter-gatherers  – also called foragers; depend almost entirely (86% or more) on hunting, fishing, and gathering for subsistence
Primarily Hunter-gatherers — also called foragers; depend mostly (56% percent or more) hunting, fishing, and gathering for subsistence
Pastoralists depend mostly (56% or more) on herding or pastoralism.
Horticulturalists –depend mostly (56% or more) on simple agriculture (extensive or horticulture)
Intensive agriculturalists —depend mostly (56% or more) on intensive agriculture (with more or less permanent field cultivation and/or irrigation)
Pastoral/agriculturalists —not any of the above and pastoralism and agriculture/horticulture combined contribute at least 76% or more to the economy.
Other Subsistence Combination (includes other combinations of hunting, fishing, gathering, pastoralism, and horticulture or intensive agriculture).
Commercial economy—at the time of description people did not make their living mostly by hunting, fishing, gathering, pastoralism or agriculture, but mostly made their living by working for wages, selling products, or in business.

Topics and Cultures in eHRAF: This printable PDF document serves as handy reference and overview of all the topics on cultural and social life, and all cultures, past and present, currently covered in HRAF’s cross-cultural online databases. Last update: April 5, 2014. Please check for regular updates.

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