Vorpal wrote:Most of the surveys about why people don't cycle are poorly constructed and/or designed to get a particular answer. People will generally pick 'safety' or 'fear of traffic' as the reason when the alternatives are about helmet hair or lack of showers.
I have yet to see a survey that asks questions like, 'if cycling was faster than driving, would you ride your bike to work?' because I'd bet that a significant proportion of the folks who said fear of traffic was why they don't cycle would give a different answer if the questions included speed and convenience. Of if people were helped to get places by bike before they took such a survey.
Surveys of why people don't do things can get poor results when they are reasonably well constructed. When they aren't, they're hopeless.
This is so true - although it's no easy matter to construct any survey that asks truly neutral questions. Every and any kind of question tends to suggest a range of answers supplied by cultural norms. The very language itself is highly suggestive. The "same" question in English might have entirely invoke an entirely different perspective if asked in Chinese.
But if the survey attempts to sidestep the cultural norms by giving a range of alternative non-cliche answers to choose from, that too is supplying a limited range of answers. In fact, it's likely to contain only the perspectives and prejudices of the person constructing the survey.
So, as you intimate, even the choice from N constructed answers will be affected by cultural norms. Habits. Fashions. What I'm supposed to think. What my mate Dick thinks. What my favourite newspap said about "this subject".............
I once did a course exploring all the varieties of rhetoric, inclusive of how to obtain the answer you want by asking questions that suggest that answer. There are a hundred ways...... Every survey I've ever looked at used a number of them, perhaps on purpose or perhaps just accidently, by copying survey-question models of the familiar kind.
Here's one example: "What is your ethnicity".
This presupposes that there is such a thing as ethnicity; that's it's a valid concept; that the person answering recognises it as such; that the person answering will supply one of a culturally-acceptable or familiar set of ethnicities. Personally I don't accept the concept and, even if I did, have no idea what mine is or ought to be.
What to do if surveying then? Questions need to be open to as much as possible, despite the imprecision. For example, rather than "What's your ethnicity" how about "Define who you are"? It'll be no fun sorting out the meaning of the answers, mind.