[LINK] ArsT: 'Users are still idiots ...'
Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au
Wed Aug 25 13:04:54 AEST 2010
From the article below, it looks like behavioural scientists are,
belatedly, actually learning something about the human race.
The article says (1): "people are actually less likely to complete a
survey if they're provided assurances that their answers would be
But why is this meant to be a surprise?
The language is rich in expressions that make clear that normal
people already know such things, e.g. 'let sleeping dogs lie','don't
scare the horses', 'that would be stirring up a hornet's nest'.
It's the reason that consumer protection and privacy laws require
that notice be provided of such things as terms, warranties, data
collection, data use and disclosure ... and 'confidentiality'
(whatever that means).
(2): "If participants were asked about their participation [in
unethical behaviour] as part of the rating process, they were about
1.5 times more likely to admit an ethical misstep than if they were
simply asked point blank as a separate question. This suggested that
a causal [sic: I think the author meant 'casual'] approach, which
puts a participant at ease, is more likely to get them to cough up
"an unprofessional-looking interface seemed to loosen participants up
in the same manner that approaching a question indirectly did"
"the study [shows] that it's pretty easy to manipulate users into
being more or less likely to divulge personal information"
Put differently, you get better results if people think the situation
is different from what it really is. Wow. [I'm frequently scolded
of I call this 'lying', although apparently 'constructive
misrepresentation' is acceptable circumlocution.]
But, in Yanqui parlance, this is merely Confidence Tricksterdom 101.
It's the foundation of most consumer marketing practice, and of all
political behaviour. You'd expect marketing academics to be a *bit*
closer to the real world than the rest of the ivory tower, and hence
to have accepted it as longstanding knowledge; but apparently not.
As an aside, it's interesting to ponder what an ethics committee
would think of survey designs that feature the provision of
intentionally misleading information to participants.
At the very least, there should surely be a requirement that, before
making any use of the data, the surveyor:
- must provide the participants with full information
- must offer the participant the opportunity to withdraw, and to have
their data destroyed
But that would preclude a significant proportion of so-called social
science. And we couldn't have that now could we. It's valuable,
Users are still idiots, cough up personal data despite warnings
By John Timmer
Last updated about 3 hours ago (twerps - they mean Wed 25 Aug 2010)
OTOH, ArsT *does* (regrettably unusually) provide a citation of the source:
Reporting on Journal of Consumer Research, 2010. DOI: 10.1086/656423
Roger Clarke http://www.rogerclarke.com/
Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd 78 Sidaway St, Chapman ACT 2611 AUSTRALIA
Tel: +61 2 6288 1472, and 6288 6916
mailto:Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au http://www.xamax.com.au/
Visiting Professor in the Cyberspace Law & Policy Centre Uni of NSW
Visiting Professor in Computer Science Australian National University
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