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Way More Americans May Be Atheists Than We Thought (on questionaires)

Discussion in 'Other Health News and Research' started by RogerBlack, May 18, 2017.

  1. RogerBlack

    RogerBlack Senior Member

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    https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/way-more-americans-may-be-atheists-than-we-thought/

    An interesting approach to people wanting to please the experimenter (or feeling compelled to)

    Take ten random statements of no great controversy 'I own a dog'.
    For half of the people, swap out one of the uncontroversial questions randomly with 'I believe in god'.

    Now, do not ask them to state the result directly, but just how many of the statements apply to them.

    The fact that this causes a very different answer than if they are asked explicitly is interesting for any aspect of research which may be biased by wanting to please the experimenter.
     
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  2. Jonathan Edwards

    Jonathan Edwards "Gibberish"

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    Neat
     
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  3. Barry53

    Barry53 Senior Member

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    Interesting. I suppose the "I believe in god" question has a built-in loading factor, a person's response influenced by things like cultural/family expectations, personal experiences, etc. Even if the questionnaire is guaranteed anonymous, there may still be a significant self-judgemental element that influences answering the question; not having to answer the question directly, but only obliquely and by omission, possibly alleviates some of the "pressure to conform".

    How you could ever achieve something similar in clinical trial I cannot imagine. The trial itself, no matter how well run, must engender some need to conform, even if only self imposed. Let alone when badly run and unethically run.
     
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  4. RogerBlack

    RogerBlack Senior Member

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    It would eliminate the fear of nebulous consequences or them not liking you, or ... in relation to your answers.
    It would not eliminate changes in answers due to convincing someone that black is white.
    In principle.

    In practice, I can't see how you'd do this without a significantly larger required effect size or trial group - this technique while possibly useful statistically dilutes your answers.

    It would be interesting to do the above trial with four arms.
    Ask the questions 'neutrally' - and ask them with a person of religion presenting the form and in the room.
    Perhaps after some church activity of some secular sort.
     
    Barry53 likes this.

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