Cross-Cultural Research and Methodology
View the Sampling section of HRAF’s Basic Guide to Cultural Research for a comprehensive overview of cultural sampling, including sample sizes, which samples are used within eHRAF, and how best to make use of these in your research.
In brief, eHRAF World Cultures contains four samples that can be considered representative:
- Probability Sample Files (PSF): 60 largely preindustrial societies that meet certain data quality controls, one randomly chosen from each culture area.
- Simple Random Sample (SRS): currently 28 societies randomly chosen from a compiled list of over 8 cross-cultural samples. (See also: SRS in eHRAF Archaeology)
- Standard Cross-Cultural Sample (SCCS): consists of 186 anthropologically described societies pinpointed in time and space.
- Ethnographic Atlas (EA): contains over 1264 societies and intended to be an “exhaustive” list of the world’s described societies. eHRAF currently contains over 200 of these societies.
eHRAF Archaeology has a Simple Random Sample.
As explained in the Basic Guide to Cross-Cultural Research on the home page under Selection of Cultures and also under Sampling within the HRAF Collection, the eHRAF collection was initially designed to represent the diversity of cultures around the world (mostly described by ethnographers), but because we undertook some special programs such as immigrant cultures in North America, we do not claim that the whole sample is representative. For teaching purposes, we suggest that you consider the 60-culture Probability Sample Files, which does claim to be representative. You can sort results in eHRAF by Sample Type on the Region and Culture results page.
Learn more about coded data in eHRAF in our Cross-Cultural Research overview.