December 2012 Archives

Same-sex marriage poll

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This poll shows American's views toward same-sex marriage. It uses open ended questions as to why they support or don't support same-sex marriage. I think this was a wise choice by Gallup because any other form of the question would either be leading or loaded. People have their own opinions on the matter and this is the ideal way for them to express that.

It was also no surprise that those who oppose it most do so for their religion. That was not a clever headline for the report, I would think of something more shocking.

How ethical is your job?

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This survey on Gallup measured people's honesty ratings of various professions. It was no surprise to see car salesmen and congressman at the bottom of the list. It was surprising to see journalists rated so poorly since to me they are seen as the only people not afraid to tell the truth and hold people to ethical standards.

This poll was conducted using telephone interviews of over a 1,000 Americans in all 50 states. There was a +/-4 percentage of error to the study. This report was done well and organized logically. I especially liked the implications section that summarized the data into real world outcomes.

I only hope that journalists regain their ethical footing along with congressman! Car salesman are probably a lost cause...

Cold and Flu Season

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It's that time of year where a cold can knock you out for a day and a flu can hold you down for a few days. It was surprising to me that Gallup conducted a poll on Americans with a cold or flu. I thought they only did economics, politics and the like.

What I really found interesting about this poll was that it had a percentage error of only +/-1. So it is a pretty accurate view of the country. The second part that was intriguing was the way they broke down the results. By demographics they pinpointed who exactly suffered from colds or flu more than others. Here is a screen shot of that breakdown:

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Finals Poll

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This is an example of a great survey question! You can say that it is a leading question, but the actual question is not controversial and so I'd say it's okay. It is a close-ended question with multiple choices. There is an option for everyone: 0- 5+ finals, and it is very easy to understand. The poll gives you the results right away and it even gives a tally of how many people have been surveyed so you know what the percentages really mean!

Great job UMN.

Emotions Survey - Valid?

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I thought it was intriguing to see a poll that measured how emotional a country was. Singapore is reported as having the least emotions but I don't think the researchrs took into account their cultural values. Many asian cultures do not show emotions or talk about emotions with strangers, this may have affected the way they answered the questions in the survey. Not reporting the possiblity of a cultural difference I think was irresponsible of Gallup.

They did, however, come to the conclusion that Latin American countries have a higher rate of positive emotions than most of the world. This I learned in my Intercultural Communication class is because they live in the moment. They don't work for a goal, or for inner peace, they work for the present.

Surveys like this should be taken with a grain of salt because every culture varies and everyone shows emotions differently.

Gallup's Daily Poll

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Just found it interesting the things the gallup poll measures daily. They all relate to work and the economy of the U.S.

U.S. Happiness Poll

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I thought this was an interesting gallup poll, and something not normally reported on: happniess level. The method of this survey was to call approximately 1,000 national adults and interview them on if they experienced a lot of happiness and enjoyment without a lot of stress and worry versus if they experienced daily worry and stress without a lot of happiness. Relating this back to our class, they used a closed-ended question with multiple choices. Although this may not be completely accurate because the participants were given only two options to pick from and some may have felt like they were more in the middle.

There was also a percentage of error or +/- 4 points. This means that while the results say there was 44% overall happiness, the range of confidence is 40% - 48%. There was also inconsistent data; there was 44% reported happy and 13% reported stressed, with no visible group to make up the difference.

Judging that happiness is already hard to measure I'd say this study has some flaws and should not be considered significant or representative of the U.S. population. On a global stage we already know where we stand: very close to the bottom. If Americans really want to be happy try moving to Denmark or Costa Rica!

Parodies of Research Reporting

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This parody by Jon Stewart is a prime example of research being mocked for being incomplete. I think if you are going to put your research into the media, you have to be pretty certain what it means for the world. In this case, two words can not be linked to Jesus having a wife; we need more proof!

People are skeptical because of false reporting in the past, so give them something they can trust.

Telling the Research Story

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In the article "Experimental Research for PTSD: Ecstasy", the researchers commented on the power of the media to gain awareness and acceptance of proposed research.

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Ecstasy is a controversial drug classified in the Schedule 1 classification, along with drugs like heroin, cocaine and LSD. They are suppose to have no medical benefit and be highly addictive. Changing this attitude toward the drug was important for Dr. Doblin to be able to research it without bias.

This is an interesting look at the way the media can shape a research study. Public support and decreased stigmas of the drug was necessary for the DEA to allow the research to continue. Voicing their optimism toward ecstasy being a help instead of a harm was a interesting feature to this study not often seen.

Now that the study has found promising results it has become a three-day feature article on CNN's news site. They followed the Research with Legs article's advice to make the research into a story, showing their insights through narrative.

Reporting Trauma Studies

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I read an article in the NY Times today about the recent published journal about the effect of head trauma on professional athletes. The reporter did a good job of highlighting the goals and procedures of the research and the results of the study.

According to the article, the study was conducted over 4 years with samples of brains donated from major athletes and veterans who had exhibited the symptoms before death. The study was conducted by investigators at the Boston University Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy and the Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System. The study started out with an initial question about the link between head trauma and long-term degenerative brain diseases. The reporter mentions that "the researchers expected the details in the study to dispel doubts about the likelihood that many years of head trauma can lead to C.T.E", but as is the case with many studies, the results were not what the researchers expected but gave new insights.

The research for this study was relevant and showed a new insight into the field that merited its reporting.

Latino Power

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It seems CNN has being doing demographic research on its viewers. They are planning to launch a CNN Latino channel for the millions of Americans that "consider themselves 100% Latino and 100% American." The language of the network is yet to be decided. The channels aim is to attract the bilingual community and according to their research "at least half of U.S. Latinos are fluent in Spanish."

CNN also took cues from the past election and the impact that the Latino vote had on the outcome. Using the post-election research numbers, CNN has seen the need for a channel devoted to their interests. Not to mention the amount of advertisers now vying for the Latino wallet. This is a good example of analyzed research being used for varying interests: explaining an election, generating more network viewers, and advertising.

Disaster relief and Twitter

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This article from the Huffington Post has me thinking about Twitter and social media's role in communicating disaster information to the masses. It seems like a lot of people got their information on Hurricane Sandy from Twitter, specifically from the Red Cross, Government Officials, and other non-profit's accounts. Twitter even set up an event page, normally reserved for advertisers, in the wake of the event.

I think it'd be interesting to do some research on the effectiveness of Twitter as a disaster communication platform. Did Twitter do a better job of informing NE residents of storm safety and aftermath help than the news? Particularly for the people who had their power out, I'd like to know if they relied on their phones instead or radios?

A quick survey to these residents could give insight about their use of social media for news, especially in the event of power failure. A focus group would prove helpful too, and would alleviate some of the stress associated with talking about such a disaster. Being in a group of people who went through similar situations may help them to open up and give valuable responses that could be used by governments and disaster-relief organizations in the future.

Nielsen Ratings

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It came to my attention in class today that the Nielsen Television ratings are extremely antiquated. They still rely on random households to write down what they watched in order to determine how many people across the country watched a program.

That seems to me like it has a lot of room for error. Reporting bias (households only reporting the shows they are least embarrassed by), low response rate (households forgetting they watched a program), and generalization (who say's 30 million people watched this program if only 30 households reported it?).

In this digital age it seems like there would be a better way to check the number of television viewers.

Annoying Corporate Emails

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I'd like to see more research done on consumer attitudes towards company emails. I recently donated $3.00 to the Nature Conservancy to offset my future jet travel and I've received a new email from them everyday since. During the election I had at least one, if not three, new emails from Barack Obama everyday. Do strategic messagers really think people want to read all those emails?

I can't imagine why we'd want to; there is a gap in communication and the annoyance will continue until it's researched further.

If I were to research this I'd start at tracking how many people unsubscribe from our mailing list soon after joining it. Then possibly ask them to take a survey asking basic questions as to why they removed themselves. Or even sending a short survey to current subscribers asking them how many emails a week they would prefer. Any quantitative data on this subject could be utilized for strategic planning.

U of M Surveys

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In an effort to win something this semester I have elected to take all the surveys that are emailed to my inbox. Some things I realized about these surveys after taking this class:

They all offered either a $50 gift card from visa or the bookstore or the opportunity to be entered in a drawing for an iPad. This persuasive technique we learned in class is essential to getting a good response rate. Personally, I ignored all surveys that didn't offer some sort of prize.

The last survey I took was about diversity at the U of M and tackled some tough questions. I noticed that the more sensitive questions were surrounded by easy questions like how many credits are you taking or where do you study most. This made answering the hard questions less uncomfortable and kept the survey moving along easy.

All of the surveys had a initial page giving the participant information on the risks and benefits, just as we discussed in class. I give them all A's for ethics.

The best part: After about 11 surveys, and probably 2 hours of survey taking, I am the proud winner of a $50 gift card to the bookstore. Thanks MN Daily!

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This page is an archive of entries from December 2012 listed from newest to oldest.

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