What is observation and inference

Difference Between Observation and Inference

You have come across the terms observation and inference several times in statistics. observation means an act of monitoring something, i.e. objects, units, people or anything else, using the senses. The observer remains at the location of the measurement, observes the observed objects and notes the observations himself.

Conversely relates Inference to the conclusion based on the facts and evidence available, that is, deductions will be made according to the research carried out.

The two terms are so closely related that these two terms are synonymous to a layperson, but the truth is that these two words are different. So if you are looking for the differences between observation and inference, you have come to the right place. Have a look.

Comparison table

Basis of comparisonmonitoringInference
importanceObservation is the careful observation or investigation of a person or an object when something happens.Inference is referred to as the act of inferring rational inferences from known facts or circumstances.
natureGoal settingSubjective
What is it?It is what you perceive.It is an explanation or assumption of what one has perceived.
Based onPractical experienceSecond hand information
InvolvedCollection of information without interviewing respondentsMake a decision about the information collected.
ImpliedCareful monitoring of the subject under studyLogically derive a conclusion.

Definition of observation

Observation is defined as the primary source of data acquisition used in descriptive research. It is the most widely used method of information gathering in the field of behavioral science. We humans use our senses to observe things around us. This is observation too, but not scientific. The observation is considered scientific if it serves the formulated research purpose.

Data, events and objects are systematically recorded and recorded. In addition, the data is checked and controlled to ensure the validity and reliability of the data.

With this method, the investigator does not rely on information from the respondent, ie he does not question the observed people, but rather observes directly in order to ensure precise observation and to break down subjective prejudices. In addition, the information collected is based on current events, meaning it is not influenced by past or future intentions or attitudes. The observation can be structured or unstructured, disguised or disguised. It can be done in a natural or artificial setting.

Definition of inference

Inference, put simply, means an assumption or conclusion that is rationally drawn based on facts and observations. It's a calculated guess based on evidence and circumstance. It is an element of thinking and thinking that can be precise or imprecise, justified or unjustified, logical or illogical.

When the population size is large, it is impractical to study every single element of the population. Therefore, a sample is chosen at random to represent the entire population. On the basis of the sample selected in this way, generalizations are made about unknown characteristics of the population. In statistics, inference involves two things, hypothesis testing and estimation.

Key differences between observation and inference

The difference between observation and inference can be clearly drawn for the following reasons:

  1. Observing or examining a person or object when something happens is called observation. A process of inferring a rational inference from known facts or circumstances is called inference.
  2. The observation is objective while the inference is subjective.
  3. Observation is what you perceive or notice. On the other hand, the conclusion is an explanation or assumption of what one has perceived or seen.
  4. The observation is based on practical experience. In contrast to inference, which relies on the facts already known.
  5. Observation implies careful monitoring of the subject under study. In contrast to inference, inferring logical conclusion through reasoning.
  6. Observation is an act of obtaining information without consulting the respondent. In contrast, decisions have to be made about the information collected.


Aside from the differences noted above, observation and inference are related in the sense that observation is what we perceive when something happens, while inference is derived based on observation. In this way, the inference is often understood as an interpretation of what is being observed.