August 30, 2010
Genetic Basis For Whether To Respond To Surveys

If you ignore surveys in the mail and hang up on surveyors on the phone your genes are telling you to do it. Next time a phone surveyor calls up I'm going to tell them "My genes compel me to hang up on you". So I've got that to look forward to.

A new study from North Carolina State University shows that genetics play a key factor in whether someone is willing to take a survey.

“We wanted to know whether people are genetically predisposed to ignore requests for survey participation,” says Dr. Lori Foster Thompson, an associate professor of psychology at NC State and lead author of a paper describing the research. “We found that there is a pretty strong genetic predisposition to not reply to surveys.”

For the study, the researchers sent out a survey to over 1,000 sets of twins – some fraternal, some identical – and then measured who did and did not respond. The researchers were interested in whether the response behavior of one twin accurately predicted the behavior of the other twin. “We found that the behavior of one identical twin was a good predictor for the other,” Foster Thompson says, “but that the same did not hold true for fraternal twins.

Naturally I wonder what that propensity to ignore surveys correlates with. What faction of politics or culture is being missed by surveyors? What kinds of people do you think are least likely to answer surveys? What other traits does this propensity track with? Shyness? The tendency to be a loner? Independence? Resentment of authority? Lack of charitable feeling?

Also, are the people who won't answer phone surveys the same as the ones who won't answer mail surveys? Phone's a lot more invasive and personal. So phone surveyors might repel a different subset of humanity.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2010 August 30 09:30 PM  Brain Innate

Chris T said at August 31, 2010 9:36 AM:

They should check to see how politically active people who ignore surveys are. If they don't vote, than their non-participation is irrelevant for predicting winners. If they do, then political surveys may have a significant bias.

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