Survey responses – do the “don’t know” really know?
I’ve written before about survey respones and the use of “don’t know” as an option on a Likert scale. What I said was that in some situations, a person may not have an opinion on a subject – and cannot say if they agree or disagree – so it may be wise to include a “don’t know” option. Well, i just read an interesting article that suggests that people who respond “don’t know” may actually have an opinion – it’s just that they may require a longer amount of time to develop confidence or awareness of their choice. The article gives an example of how the opinion of undecided people can be acurately predicted by creative means:
In a recent study, 33 residents of an Italian town initially told interviewers that they were undecided about their attitude toward a controversial expansion of a nearby American military base. But researchers found that those people’s opinions could be predicted by measuring how quickly they made automatic associations between photographs of the military base with positive or negative words.