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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Choice blindness

Participants completed a survey asking them to agree or disagree with statements such as “large scale governmental surveillance of e-mail and Internet traffic ought to be forbidden as a means to combat international crime and terrorism”. When they reviewed their copy of the survey their responses had been covertly changed, but 69% failed to notice at least one of two changes, and when asked to explain their answers 53% argued in favor of what they falsely believed was their original choice

Whoah. This is from a post on Less Wrong, wherein some more details and links to the study and video, along with discussion.

8 comments to Choice blindness

  • Alisa

    Just goes to show how much most surveys and polls are really worth.

  • Henry

    The general public are sheeple with the attention span of a goldfish? How else could TB have gotten the keys to No.10 time & again.

  • CaptDMO

    Which is why I often “test” the pollster whenever it becomes clear that the “poll” is a push poll.
    (this includes medical “history” questionaires)
    The validity, control, and confirmation ‘back up” questions, especially when attempting to “trap” moral opposition to the predetermined “outcome”, in (fill in the blank) format “quick” inquisitions, simply annoy me.

    Failure to acknowledge recognition of the “I beg the question….” concept equals-NA. Twice means immidiate end of the “quiz”, and redaction of all other phishing “information” previously given, if possible.

  • Lee Moore

    The trouble with this is that one almost always agrees with the statement offered to some extent, and disagrees with it to some extent – or one doesn’t have particularly strong views one way or the other. Hence if forced to decided one way or the other, agreeing or disagreeing is a matter of weighing up how you feel about particular aspects at one time. It’s easy enough to come down the other way on another occasion. So if you opt for A and you’re later told you opted for B instead, justifying B is not really inconsistent with your original view.

    Ask me if I agree or disagree whether, say, “the economy would work better if the government owned the means of production, distribution and exchange” and I think you’d struggle to fool me that I’d once answered “Yes.”

  • 2dogs

    I wonder if the targets are just engaging in conflict avoidance.

    After all, I imagine many would only be there because they are being paid, certainly they would have little invested in the choices they made.

    It’s less risky for them to invent a rationalisation then argue with the researcher, so that’s what they do.

  • Mose Jefferson

    The U.S. mainstream media outlets such as MSNBC and especially Jon Stewarts Daily Show (because it’s viewers cannot distinguish comedy from news) have been suggesting that Romney’s campaign is floundering and stumbling and that he has had to fundamentally change tack several times. Their evidence for this? Because they (the media) have said it is so.

    The power of suggestion: yet one more reason to severely limit the powers of government.

  • Alsadius

    Most people don’t really care, haven’t invested much thought or identity in their answers, and can see arguments going both ways. Give me a 30-question quiz on just about anything twice in a row, and I’ll usually change my mind on 1-2 of them.

  • All polls and statistics can be altered in favor of who’s paying the bills Just follow the money.