The Economist's Apprentice

In which a little girl confronts the world and battles the anti-humans.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

French Survey on Hiroshima

60 years after the bombing of Hiroshima, Le Monde asks if Hiroshima...
a) has saved the world from World War III,
b) was a tragedy without real positive consequences,
c) no opinion.
Interestingly, the survey does not include the opinion held by many Americans:
d) the bombings saved lives by ending World War II quicker.

Academics are well aware that changing the way survey questions are expressed can impact the results. The story drawn is often that respondents are irrationally influenced by word choice. Often these seeming inconsistencies are created by the questions being incorrectly formulated. How would a respondent who believes (d) respond to the survey by Le Monde? They might think that the real purpose of the question was whether or not the Hiroshima bombing was beneficial and select (a). Later, if asked a simple yes/no question of whether or not the bomb saved the world from World War III, they might take the question at face value and answer 'no'. A similar inconsistency would appear, if the respondent chose (b) and then was later asked if the bombing saved lives by ending World War II quicker. Respondent's are doomed to inconsistency, if they are asked a series of related and incorrectly formulated questions.


At 1:09 PM, Blogger Miss Anne Thrope said...

How about choice (e): "The bombimg wreaked untold environmental destruction"?


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