Creating a representative sample is a wonderful thing. From hundreds of thousands of people, you randomly pick and choose people until all the necessary cells have the correct number of people
We need to find men and women, younger and older people, more and less educated people, urban and rural people, small and large households, low and high income people. When you start creating that balanced sample, the job is pretty easy. Slot that young woman into the cross between women and young. Slot someone into young and male. Slot someone else into older and lower income. On and on you go until you need to fill just the last few slots.
There are a few openings left in the male side of things. There are a bunch of slots in the high income section.There are a bunch of slots in the low education section. So, really all you need are a few good 18 year old men who didn’t get a high school diploma and who earn $150k per year. Bill Gates is too old as is Mark Zuckerberg. The only people left to fill that slot are…. I have to say it…. gamers – people gaming the survey system to qualify for surveys and earn incentives.
But there are solutions.
- First of all, it’s quite simple to build algorithms that detect unlikely demographic patterns. Research them. Test them. Apply them. Get rid of people who are clearly gaming the system and providing false data.
- Second, instead of desperately trying to find exactly 500 to complete a survey, allow yourself to select 550 so as to avoid the selection of people who’s demographics are so odd that they don’t truly fit the niche you are looking for. You’re not looking for people who’s personal behaviours are so odd that their demographic characteristics are out of whack. You are looking for a representative sample. Don’t let technicalities get in the way of thinking.
You’ll get pushback on this but try it. See what happens.
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