Friday, September 21, 2012
This experiment is a warning to anyone who runs surveys of public opinion. It is possible consciously or not to change minds through how a survey is conducted. This is not a new finding. Politicians have used "push polls" for years as a way to change voters' minds. But, the experiment shows that in matters of morality it is possible to have subjects argue both sides of an issue without realizing they are doing it. There is a question whether this holds true in matters they hold deeply but certainly in areas they do not think about often, minds are changeable based on how questions are phrased. In any poll, there are more things that can go wrong than right. Unfortunately, naive poll-takers fail to understand the process and its delicacy. They go to Survey Monkey, ask a few questions and assume they have a valid understanding of a target audience. They don't for many reasons, too many to go into here. Before you conduct your next assessment of public opinion, think about the difficulties first. Better yet, consult with someone who does it for a living and knows the traps. There are far too many junk surveys that are Garbage-in Garbage-Out.