Monday, 25 January 2010

Spot the Bias

There I was whiling away 10 minutes this evening filling out a YouGov survey (only four and a half years to go before I receive my £50 cheque!) when I came across this question: Which of these best describes your job title?.

The options were:
Chair/President/Chief Executive Officer
Managing Director
General manager
Chief Operating Officer
Chief Information officer
Chief Technical Officer
Other Chief Officer
Head of Department
Other senior management (please specify)
Other management (please specify)
Professional (accountant, architect, lawyer, teacher, etc)
Government Official
Hmmm, something's missing from this list of occupations. Call me nitpicky but I see no options for the millions who work in low wage, low status jobs, nor the legions of middle-ranking administrators, factory workers, shop assistants AND the 2.5 million unemployed.

How can Yougov write off over half the population and *still* be widely regarded as reliable pollsters?


Unknown said...

This was likely a survey where we were actively trying to identify people with such titles (managers basically) to ask further specific questions. This doesn't mean our panel is only composed of such people, quite the contrary. Our panels include people from all walks of life and YouGov makes no judgment as to the relative status or merit of one occupation vs. another.

If we were looking for medical professionals we might have a question with a list of titles such as Doctor, Head Nurse, Charge Nurse, Nurse's aide, Orderly, etc... but that wouldn't mean that people without those titles aren't important.

Unknown said...

I have found a similar thing with yougov (just 7500 off my cheque!) , it looks for a certain kind of result in many of its polls I tend to feel. Having done a poll then to read the results as reported in the media is an edifying experience. For example often a repeating question is, do you trust the main 3 parties on various topics (which I largely don't), say on immigration all of them are vicious anti-migrant bastards but the answer -do not trust them- I think is interpreted as an anti migrant answer (ie don't trust 'em, its political correctness gone mad, if the media report 43% do not trust the parties on immigration I think most media play that as 43% are anti-migrant etc) rather than a pro migrant one but yougov make no allowance for this as they poll -I think- in a reactionary mainstream sphere that also endorses a very consumerist frame. I'm sure they'd argue they are more sophisticated but often the narrow set of answers to not offer an answer that represents my response, I think they largely just reinforce a more banal narrow set of opinions as befits being a media engaged corporation that plays within the neoliberal 'consensus'.

Unknown said...

they dont i dont think. im down as a student, and i used to be a hospital admin worker acording to yougov. it might be that just that specific quiz, which is aimed at that group, and you got it because of the general area of employment you had selected. i dont know

Phil said...

Thanks for replying, Michael.

The previous information I gave in that survey was my work status (part time), area (education) and private/public sector (private - that is until later this week!) I didn't indicate my position. This is problematic because the list excludes the bulk of my establishment's work force - the clerical support staff, cleaners, porters, estates, librarians, etc.