J2 Content – Perspectives

A varied collection of thoughts on education and parenting

A Most unScientific Study: People Pleasing

A pair of informal surveys given seven days apart to the same class of 25 tenth-grader students yielded contradictory results despite having common questions. The only significant difference between the two surveys was that one required students to write their name on the top while was completed anonymously.

The surveys each consisted of 30 seemingly unrelated questions about preferred foods, favorite television shows, and opinons about various current events. 5 of the 30 questions were common to both tests.

  1. Do you consider your mother or father a role model?
  2. If you saw someone cheating on a test would you confront them about it?
  3. Would you rather eat dinner at home than at a restaurant?
  4. Do you read front page of the newspaper at least 4 timesĀ  week?
  5. Do you think video games are a bad influence on children?

We saw a noticeable difference in the responses to these questions depending on whether or not the surveys were answered anonymously.

  1. Named Surveys: 85% said “Yes”; Anonymous Surveys: 45% said “Yes”
  2. Names Surveys: 75% said “Yes”; Anonymous Surveys: 25% said “Yes”
  3. Names Surveys: 60% said “Yes”; Anonymous Surveys: 35% said “Yes”
  4. Names Surveys: 60% said “Yes”; Anonymous Surveys: 25% said “Yes”
  5. Names Surveys: 65% said “Yes”; Anonymous Surveys: 15% said “Yes”

It seems unlikely that so many of the students changed their perspectives in the 7 days between the administration of the surveys. Our theory is that the students sought to give the “correct” response when their names were linked to the surveys. When answering anonymously, the students gave a more “honest” answer, or at least a less guarded response.

With all the attention given to peer pressure, we wonder if there shouldn’t be more attention given to the pressure students feel to please their parents, teachers, and other authority figures. The importance of being yourself and holding true to your own values and desires is no less important. We also wonder how many adults fail to realize theya re often simply being told what they want to hear.

What are your experiences children trying too hard to give the “right” answer instead of an honest one? Please share your thoughts below.

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