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Research War Stories: Canadian men don't wear underwear

In the popular War Stories column, which has run sporadically in Quirk's since 1994, Art Shulman, president of Shulman Research in Van Nuys, Calif., presents humorous tales of life in the research trenches, based on his own experiences and those of researcher friends and colleagues. Each month in our e-newsletter we feature a few anecdotes from past War Stories columns.

Harris Goldstein recalls conducting a survey where the computer printout revealed a relatively high percentage of "no" answers when Canadian men were asked what type of underwear they wore - boxers or briefs. Suspicious of the high number of no answers, Goldstein investigated further and found no interviewer or data processing errors. His conclusion: A relatively high percentage of Canadian men don't wear underwear.

An unnamed focus group moderator, often on the road, made a practice of shipping home his used underwear while he was on long trips. One evening he instructed the hostess at the focus facility he was visiting to FedEx a package holding his underwear to his home and ship the audiotapes to his client. When the moderator returned home a couple of days later he opened the FedEx package and, to his horror, saw audiotapes. Realizing what his client had received, and more concerned that his client would know whether he wore Jockey shorts or boxers than with the client not having audiotapes, the moderator immediately called the client's secretary, who said that the package hadn't yet been opened. He then instructed her not to open it and to FedEx it to his office, next-day priority.

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