Chapter 3 Measurements, Mistakes, and Misunderstandings Simple Measures Dont Exist It is important to understand how the information was collected and what was measured or asked. Many measurements are complex and difficult. The Wording of the Question Example: How Fast Were They Going? Students were asked questions after shown a film of car accident. About how fast were the cars going when they contacted each other? Average response = 31.8 mph About how fast were the cars going when they collided with each other? Average response = 40.8 mph Its all the in the Wording 1. Deliberate Bias Wording a question in such a way that sways someone towards the desired answer Appropriate wording should not indicate a desired answer. Examples: Antiabortion groups question: Do you agree that abortion, the murder of innocent beings, should be outlawed? Prochoice groups question: Do you agree that there are circumstances under which abortion should be legal, to protect the rights of the mother? 2. Unintentional Bias When questions are worded in such a way that could be misinterpreted Different words can have different meanings Examples: Do you use drugs? need to specify if you mean prescription drugs, illegal drugs, etc. What is the most important date in your life? need to specify if you mean calendar date or social engagement. Consider two different wordings for a particular question: Wording 1: Do you favor or oppose an ordinance that forbids surveillance cameras to be placed on Beaver Avenue? Wording 2: Do you favor or oppose an ordinance that does not allow surveillance cameras to be placed on Beaver Avenue? People will tend to answer oppose or no to a question that contains words such as forbid, control, ban, outlaw, and restrain regardless of what question is actually being asked. People do not like to be told that they cant do something. So the responses to the two questions would not provide similar results. Wording 2 would be preferred over Wording 1. 3. Desire to Please People tend to understate responses about undesirable social habits, and vice versa.