Difference Between Experiment and Survey

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 his/her cooking to see what works better and what does not.

And after the dishes are prepared, he/she takes surveys for the prepared dishes, to see if people are liking it or not, and to see how people are criticising it.

Experiment vs Survey

The main difference between experiment and survey is that experiment is laboratory research and survey is field research. Experiments are used to prove theories or hypotheses. Surveys are used to understand the notions of a group of people. Both the methods are used for research and analysis.

Experiment vs Survey

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

A survey is the collection of 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 out of it. The goal of the survey is to know the public opinion regarding an issue or a topic.

Comparison Table Between Experiment and Survey

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 often 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 few basic things to collect information.
GoalThe goal of experiments is to test and assess theories.The goal of surveys is to find a general verdict by studying the data.

What is Experiment?

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

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

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

In an experiment, the experimenter tries to evaluate the functionality of a theory or speculation. In order 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 on changing the variables and their amounts to determine the efficacy of a theory.

What is Survey?

As stated before, a survey is a procedure for collecting data. Survey means to look or “to see”, the method of examining something which already exists.

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

Surveys are executed by taking interviews on a prepared questionnaire. By taking interviews of different people, a surveyor can pull out a decision and conclusion of what most people think or expect from a particular issue.

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

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

Similarly, an organisation can conduct surveys to understand what people are thinking 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 certain relevant group of people. Surveys help to recognise people’s satisfaction and discontentment.

Main Differences Between Experiment and Survey

  1. An experiment is scientific research and done in a 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 bigger samples, 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 in order to see the various outcomes. No manipulation is needed in a survey as there are no such things as a right answer in surveys.
  4. Experiments aim to get to know the efficacy of a hypothesis or a theory, and on the other hand, surveys aim to understand the public opinion and attitude 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


Both the research works are important for understanding different aspects. An experiment is to prove a theory, and a survey helps to get an insight into public opinion.

Both help to conclude a specific issue. Both work with data and provide an extended version of it for a better understanding.

A survey from different people helps to understand the needs of the mass which leads to speculate a theory, and with the help of the experiment, we can see if that particular theory has any credibility or not.

The relationship between data and a theory can be developed by studying the surveys, and experiments are used to prove that relationship.


  1. https://www.jstor.org/stable/25791875
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0304387811000629
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