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Saturday, August 02, 2008

Not quite as religious as we tell people

The WSJ reports some work at Harvard that indicates people are less likely to make socially acceptable answers when they are interviewed by computer. They are more likely to make socially acceptable answers when interviewed by a person.

Good is Up

"A few doors down, Roger Tourangeau looks at ways people change their responses without always realizing it. The researcher in survey methodology was part of a University of Michigan and University of Maryland team studying what he calls "Good Is Up." If a word is listed at the top of a computer screen, more people are likely to assume it is positive, especially if they don't know its definition. In one test, he put "riboflavin" on a list of nutrients. When it was at the top of the screen, more people said it was good for them. When it was lower down, it was identified as less healthful."

[Thanks to Andrew Gelman's blog for directing me to this article.]