How to game sur­veys

Manila Times - - OPINION - CON­TR­ERAS Maramisam­gap­inatayn­g­m­ga­pulis­sakam­pa­nya la­ban­sai­le­gal­nadro­gaay­hin­di­to­toong­nan­la­ban sa­pulis” pinatay”( na­matay” Kung­nan­la­banohin­d­i­nan­la­banang­mga na­mataysakam­pa­nyang­m­ga­pulis­la­ban­sai­le­gal nadroga.” hin­d­i­nan­la­ban” nan­la­ban,walan­gopinyon,

rel­a­tively ur­ban bias, or a bias to­wards res­i­dents of town cen­ters. This bias also ap­plies when enu­mer­a­tors rely on hand­held ap­pli­ca­tions that are de­pen­dent on cel­lu­lar site sig­nals, for such will fur­ther limit the sam­pled ar­eas only to those reached by those sig­nals.

Thus, one as­pect of sur­veys which can be ma­nip­u­lated to game their re­sults is in the se­lec­tion of sam­ples. But this would amount to com­mit­ting what can be con­sid­ered as a mor­tal sin in sur­vey tak­ing.An hon­est sur­vey will al­ways try to min­i­mize sam­pling bias.

An­other im­por­tant el­e­ment of the sur­vey is the ques­tions asked, or what are tech­ni­cally re­ferred to as the sur­vey in­stru­ments. Sur­vey ques­tions must be struc­tured in such a way that they are not lead­ing and bi­ased, and should be clearly stated. Ide­ally, neg­a­tive state­ments are gen­er­ally avoided, and each ques­tion must con­tain only one is­sue or con­cern.

This is an­other op­por­tu­nity to game the re­sults of sur­veys. Sur­vey ques­tions can be struc­tured to lead re­spon­dents to a pre­ferred re­sponse, or to make the ques­tions com­pli­cated and con­fus­ing for or­di­nary re­spon­dents that will force them to re­spond in an ex­pected man­ner fa­vor­able to one side.

I do not mean to ac­cuse any­one of any­thing, but one ex­am­ple of a lead­ing and com­pli­cated ques­tion is when SWS, in its re­cent sur­vey on the so-called EJKs, asked re­spon­dents to agree or dis­agree with the fol­low­ing state­ment:

(Many of those killed by the po­lice in the cam­paign against drugs did not re­ally re­sist ar­rest.)

Aside from us­ing a neg­a­tive state­ment, the use of the word “killed) is loaded as it al­ready gives the im­pres­sion of in­tent to kill, which is dif­fer­ent from “(died).

A much bet­ter way of phras­ing the ques­tion would have been: “

(On whether or not those who died dur­ing the cam­paign by the po­lice against il­le­gal drugs re­sisted their ar­rest.) Re­sponses would have been cat­e­gor­i­cally scaled as “

(re­sisted, no opin­ion, did not re­sist). Fi­nally, a more in­sid­i­ous way of gam­ing the sur­vey re­sults is when the ran­dom­ized lo­ca­tion where the sam­ples will be drawn are leaked to in­ter­ested par­ties. An ag­gra­vat­ing cir­cum­stance is when such is done in ex­change for some fa­vors or bribes. Know­ing the lo­ca­tion where sam­ples will be taken will en­able an in­ter­ested party to sat­u­rate the place with in­for­ma­tion ma­te­ri­als, con­duct ral­lies and other cam­paign ac­tiv­i­ties there,in­crease vis­i­bil­ity by at­tend­ing so­cial or in some cases detri­men­tal to the other side. This is done days be­fore the ac­tual tak­ing of the sur­veys to

Sur­veys, far from be­com­ing merely a barom­e­ter that shapers of public opin­ion. As such, they ac­quire the power to make can­di­dates win. When used to mea­sure the per­for­mance of gov­ern­ments, sur­veys can also be very ef­fec­tive in paint­ing lead­ers as ef­fec­tive or in­ept, or as pop­u­lar or de­spised. They can even be used for po­lit­i­cal desta­bi­liza­tion.

Sur­veys are sup­posed to be mech­a­nisms that have be­come im­por­tant in demo­cratic politics, for they en­able mea­sure­ments of peo­ple’s sen­ti­ments.

But when they are gamed, they no longer be­come ob­jec­tive mea­sures of peo­ple’s opin­ions, but have be­come weapons to ma­nip­u­late and mis­rep­re­sent their voices. They be­come in­stru­ments by those who would like to un­der­mine democ­racy to serve their

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