Cross-sectional research is used by behavioral and social scientists to study development and education. It is called cross-sectional because researchers recruit participants from different sections of society. It involves measuring a common variable of interest that differs across groups of people while controlling for other variables, including common characteristics such as religion, martial status and ethnicity. In this way, when significant differences between groups are found, researchers may conclude that they are not due to other confounding variables.
Cross-sectional research is often applied when examining development as well as public health issues. For example, researchers who want to investigate whether a particular behavior is correlated with a particular illness might use this method. Instead of performing an experiment, researchers make observations in different groups at one time, while no variables are manipulated and no hypotheses are tested. As a result, they are able to identify and describe existing characteristics in a community.
The information a cross-sectional research provides about group differences can then be used in further research to examine the nature of the relationship that has been observed. Some of the advantages of this research design are that it is quick and cost effective, and it provides a large sample. On the other hand, this type of research may be biased by cohort effects.