by Kelly Du
Statistics that we see and hear about in the news are influenced by how an experiment or survey is conducted. In one example, people’s egos distorted the results of a poll about television viewing. Two groups were given scales to choose how much television they watched a day. The first group had a scale that started at less than thirty minutes and ended at more than two and a half hours. The second group had a scale that ranged from a minimum of less than two and a half hours, and a maximum of more than four and a half hours a day. As for the results, only 16.2% of people in the first group admitted to watching the highest choice, two and a half hours. In the second group, more than double that number admitted to watching at least two and a half hours of television. On a poll such as this one, human emotions got in the way of finding honest results. People tend to not want to be on the high end of a scale. When finding statistics about certain things, be prudent about how researchers set up their experiment or observations to get the numbers that they did.
Crossen, Cynthia. “The Study Game.” Tainted Truth: The Manipulation of Fact in America. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994. Print.