Friday, July 13, 2012

Delighted to dispense data

I was a participant in a curious experiment this morning, on the way to the office. I passed person A behaving... curiously... on the sidewalk. A little too strange, and so I gave him a wide berth as I walked by. Several meters away, person B sat on the lawn, apparently working on a laptop. Person B made pointed eye contact as I passed A, and stood up to intercept me as I attempted to pass B.

B asked me if I'd be willing to participate in a survey for a research project. I said yes. Then he proceeded to ask me increasingly specific questions, from a form, about my stance on (1) my interaction with A, and (2) very particular Canadian political issues. I grew more and more amused as the interview continued, which meant that I interrupted his (frankly uninteresting) questions with counter-questions about the design of his study, the use of person A, and what he should be asking me in order to get the information he apparently sought.

At the end of the questionnaire, he revealed the purpose of the study (finding a correlation between interactions with A-ish confederates and certain political views). I soundly ribbed him about this, but he was deadly serious. A business school student participating in some business school research.

I was probably not the easiest study participant he interviewed. But I was delighted with the guerrilla-style social experiment.

This post's theme word is anasyrma, "the gesture of lifting up a skirt or kilt in order to provoke an effect on the onlookers (but not for the lifter's own sexual arousal)." That confederate's anasyrma was very poorly acted, not convincing at all.

No comments: