Experiment vs Survey: Difference and Comparison

Both experiment and survey include research and study. To understand the distinctive features in simple words, the help of an ordinary example will be essential. So as an example, we can say that one does lots of experiments with their cooking to see what works better and what does not.

And after the dishes are prepared, they take surveys of the prepared dishes to see if people like them or not and to see how people are criticising them.

Key Takeaways

  1. Experiments involve manipulating variables to measure their effects on an outcome, while surveys involve asking questions to collect data on a population.
  2. Experiments are used to establish cause-and-effect relationships, while surveys are used to gather information on attitudes, opinions, and behaviors.
  3. Experiments are more suitable for investigating hypotheses, while surveys are more suitable for descriptive research and understanding a population’s characteristics.

Experiment vs Survey

An experiment is a controlled investigation designed to test a hypothesis or answer a research question. Experiments involve manipulating one or more variables and measuring their impact on a dependent variable. A survey consists in asking questions to a sample of individuals to gather information about their attitudes, opinions, behaviours, or other characteristics. Surveys can be used to study topics like consumer preferences to political attitudes.

Experiment vs Survey

To experiment is to examine the functionality and practicality of a theory or speculation. Experiments are primarily scientific research that is done in laboratories. Experiments help to gain experience. It is a systematic approach towards the inspection and examination of a theory.

A survey collects data or information from a group of people on a particular topic or issue. After the collection, the data is analysed, and a conclusion is drawn. The survey aims to know the public opinion regarding a problem or a topic.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonExperimentSurvey

An experiment is a test to discover or learn the functionality of a theory.To survey means to see or to observe a bunch of data to get a verdict.
Type of ResearchIt is experimental laboratory research.It is descriptive field research.
DataExperiment data is primary data collected from different experimental results and theories.Survey data is secondary data collected by interviews and set questions.
Used forExperiments are used for physical or natural scientific studies.Surveys are mainly used for social or behavioural sciences.
ManipulationManipulation of variables is done in experiments to understand a theory better.In a survey, no manipulation of variables is needed.
ExpenseExperiments can be costly.Surveys do not cost much money.
EquipmentAn experiment needs different types of equipment as it is scientific research.Surveys do not need different equipment; they only need a few basic things to collect information.
GoalThe goal of experiments is to test and assess theories.Surveys aim to find a general verdict by studying the data.

What is Experiment?

The word “experiment” originated from the Latin word “experior”. It means “to attempt” or “to experience”. An experiment is a test that attempts to discover something or examine the efficacy and potency of a theory. Most experiments are done in a laboratory by scientists.

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An experiment is done when a speculation or hypothesis goes under a test to prove its credibility. For example, if we take up the theory that states trees have lives, we must perform tests that prove the theory to be true.

To prove this, we might need to adjust the variables for a successful result.

In an experiment, the experimenter evaluates the functionality of a theory or speculation. To do the same, the experimenter manipulates different variables to see the nature and reaction of the experiment. Experiments are highly controlled research works.

To make a failed experiment successful, one needs to keep changing the variables and their amounts to determine the efficacy of a theory.

experiments 3

What is Survey?

As stated before, a survey is a procedure for collecting data. Survey means to look or “to see”, examining something already existing.

Surveys are mainly done for marketing research purposes, or they can also be used to understand people’s opinions and judgments towards a specific topic or issue. Many companies conduct surveys to understand their consumers and future customers and to be aware of their needs and demands.

Surveys are executed by taking interviews on a prepared questionnaire. By interviewing different people, a surveyor can decide and conclude what most people think or expect from a particular issue.

The survey is field research. The survey process is executed by a set of questions which allows the surveyor to understand people’s outlooks and viewpoints on a specific research topic.

Brands take surveys to understand what the people are looking for in a product and then build their marketing strategy and campaign.

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Similarly, organisations can conduct surveys to understand people’s thoughts about a particular government policy. Institutions might run surveys to know what their students might need or think.

So basically, the survey is for understanding the perspectives and attitudes of a specific relevant group of people. Surveys help to recognise people’s satisfaction and discontentment.


Main Differences Between Experiment and Survey

  1. An experiment is research done in the laboratory, whereas a survey is field research and theoretical study. An experiment studies smaller samples as the research is specific and specialised. But survey studies have more significant pieces, as it is easy to spread the questionnaire as far as you want and gather as much data as possible.
  2. An experiment can fail, but a survey can not fail as it does not aim to prove anything, and its purpose is to gather and analyse data as it comes.
  3. Experiment variables can be manipulated to see the various outcomes. No manipulation is needed in a survey, as no such thing as a correct answer exists.
  4. Experiments aim to know the efficacy of a hypothesis or a theory. On the other hand, surveys aim to understand public opinion and attitudes towards a specific topic.
  5. Executing an experiment costs more than a survey as experiments need various types of equipment, and a survey does not need it.
Difference Between Experiment and Survey
  1. https://www.jstor.org/stable/25791875
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0304387811000629

Last Updated : 11 June, 2023

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6 thoughts on “Experiment vs Survey: Difference and Comparison”

  1. I’ve always been confused about the difference between experiments and surveys, but after reading this article, I feel much more informed. The definitions provided are very helpful.

  2. The comparison table is an excellent resource for understanding the different aspects of experiments and surveys. This is very informative.

    • I couldn’t agree more. Having a side-by-side reference makes it easier to distinguish the characteristics of each research method.

  3. This article does a great job of explaining the differences between experiments and surveys in a clear and concise manner. The comparison table is particularly helpful in summarizing the key points.

    • I completely agree. It’s important to understand the distinction between the two research methods, and this article does so effectively.


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