Effects of Asking Instruments

One of the main points I make in Part Three of my book, The Problem with Survey Research, is that asking instruments (polls, interviews, etc.) affect and, thereby, bias answers.  For this reason, I call asking instruments, “shaky instruments”, as does Edwin Goldfield (in Denis Johnson, ed., Measurement of Subjective Phenomena, p. 193): “Much of what [survey] researchers have accomplished in subjective measurement has been experimental, developmental, and heuristic.  [Survey researchers] are trying to fix on moving objects with shaky instruments”.

Benjamin Ginsberg, in The Captive Public, p. 60, also discusses effects of asking instruments on results: “The data reported by opinion polls are actually the product of an interplay between opinion and the survey instrument.  As they measure, the polls interact with opinion, producing changes in the character and identity of the views receiving public expression”.

All you get from asking instruments are unreliable answers.  So, if you want to find out what’s really going on, don’t ask.

About georgebeam

George Beam is an educator and author. The perspectives that inform his interpretations of the topics of this blog–-as well as his other writings and university courses -–are system analysis, behaviorism, and Internet effects. Specific interests include quality management, methodology, and politics. He is Associate Professor Emeritus, Department of Public Administration; Affiliated Faculty, Department of Political Science; and, previously, Head, Department of Public Administration, University of Illinois at Chicago
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One Response to Effects of Asking Instruments

  1. Pingback: Counter Literature to Survey Research | George Beam's Blog

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