The popular War Stories column, which presents humorous tales of life in the research trenches, has historically been compiled by Art Shulman, president of Shulman Research in Van Nuys, Calif. Each month in our e-newsletters we feature anecdotes from past War Stories columns and over time, we have received a handful of submissions from our e-newsletter readers who want to share their own outlandish or otherwise entertaining experiences of research gone just-slightly awry.
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December 6, 2022
Kevin Reilly reports conducting a focus group with five-year-olds and explaining a five-point rating scale utilizing the familiar face of Snoopy from the "Peanuts" comic strip. On this scale, the emotive expressions on Snoopy's face ran from "elated" to "sad." In order to test kids' understanding of the rating scale, Reilly first gave them a few throwaway questions, usually extremes on the emotional spectrum. First, he asked them to, "Point to the face that tells me how much you like boiled broccoli."
Understandably, the responses were mostly negative all around. Then, to check the high end of the scale, he asked kids to, "Point to the face that tells me how you'd feel if every day were Christmas." As expected, responses were very enthusiastic - except for one boy who offered a more neutral rating. When asked why, his response was quite matter-of-fact: "It wouldn't really be a big deal to me ... I'm Jewish."
November 28, 2022
Doug Conwell once told about a opinion poll regarding the possible merger of two local municipalities. Respondents tended to be older retirees. The first night of interviewing, when a respondent was told the topic of the survey was the "merger," she replied - in horror " Murder?" Conwell and his group at first thought it was very funny. But when it started happening over and over again, they had to change the terminology.
November 14, ...