Jul 3

New thinking on data collection

Written by Peter Ross | posted in News | 0 Comments

Marketing Week LiveI’m just back from the Insight show at Marketing Week Live in London. It’s a great opportunity to see what the latest trends and approaches are in the market research world. Among the the many interesting talks I attended was one by Jon Puleston on the gamification of surveys. The idea is that surveys are boring for most people to complete so by making a survey more like a game better quality data can be obtained as people have more fun and are motivated.

So how does it work? Well first of all a game is defined as any form of thinkingmonopoly we do for fun. A game also needs some core elements to be called a game, these include rules, skill/effort and reward. Now a survey may have these elements but to make a game successful it needs to be fun, so how do we make surveys more fun?

Jon suggested the following:

Inject some humanity: Personalise the questions, allow for projection, emotionalise the questions. This could mean rephrase a question, instead of asking what could be improved in the hotel, ask the following, you are the hotel manager and you have €50,000 to spend on hotel improvements, how would you spend the money.

Application of Rules: Instead of asking think of a word ask think of a word with just three letters.

Turn it into a quest: By devising a motive to answer a question you turn the survey into a quest, an example in games is Minecraft where people spend hours doing meaningless chores in return for points.

Get them scenario playing: Our brains are developed to scenario plan so ‘What If’ questions work well.

Make it competitive: From our survival of the fittest instinct we like a little competition.

Give them rewards: This doesn’t have to be monetary either. What are the rewards on Farmville?

Jon gave many more tips including binning question grids. These are boring for respondents and encourage what’s called ‘straight lining’ where a respondent just ticks the same box down the whole question grid. With some smart programming instead of grids the use of drop and drag interfaces that are much more fun can be created. He also suggested adding a scoring mechanic, so you create a profile based on responses like what a personality profile would do.

Jon summed up by saying gamification of surveys will change your data for the better as you’ll get more data and better quality data.

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Jun 21

Stress levels increased since 1983, new analysis shows

Written by Peter Ross | posted in General | 0 Comments

You may be feeling it, but now a detailed analysis of stress over time offers some evidence that there’s more stress in people’s lives today than 25 years ago. This is research from the US, but I’d say it’s a similar situation in Ireland as modern life becomes more hectic with less time to switch off.

Stress increased 18% for women and 24% for men from 1983 to 2009, according to researchers at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, who analyzed data from more than 6,300 people. It’s considered the first-ever historical comparison of stress levels across the USA.

“The data suggest there’s been an increase in stress over that time,” says psychologist and lead author Sheldon Cohen, director of Carnegie Mellon’s Laboratory for the Study of Stress, Immunity and Disease. The analysis is published online in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology.

In research done in 1983, 2006 and 2009, those with higher stress were women, people with lower incomes and those with less education. Findings also show that as people age, stress decreases.

“Thirty-year-olds have less stress than 20-year-olds, and 40-year-olds have less stress than 30-year-olds,” says Cohen, who has studied the relationship between stress and disease for 35 years.

All three surveys used the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), a measure Cohen and others created in 1983 to assess the degree to which situations in life are perceived as stressful. Each survey respondent answered a series of questions designed to evaluate their stress levels; researchers used the scale to analyze responses and calculate an overall score. Higher scores indicate greater psychological stress.

Results show increases in stress in almost every demographic category from 1983 to 2009, ranging from 10%-30%. White, middle-aged men with college degrees and full-time jobs were the group most affected by the economic downturn, the study found. Cohen says that group’s increase was almost double that of any other demographic group.

And the results make sense, experts say. When you compare the early 1980s to today, “economic pressures are greater, and it’s harder to turn off information, and it’s harder to buffer ourselves from the world,” Spiegel says.

If your worried about your own stress levels, our sister company Life and Balance Centre, www.lifeandbalance.ie can help you.

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Apr 4

Census 2011 results, Ireland becoming more diverse

Written by Peter Ross | posted in Uncategorized | 0 Comments

The Central Statistics Office have just released further findings from the 2011 Census for the Republic of Ireland.  One key finding is Ireland is becoming a more mixed country with the latest census data showing that those born outside the State account for some 17 per cent of the population.

The number of people born outside Ireland but living here increased by 25 per cent to 766,770 in the period 2006-2011. This occurred despite the decline in the economy which when expanding attracted many thousands here.

The Central Statistics Office said the majority of those arriving came in the early part of the five-year period. The pace of immigration slowed as economic activity cooled from 2008 onwards.

The data shows that 33,674 foreign nationals moved to Ireland in the four months to April 2011, a significant fall on the figure recorded in 2006. The CSO said, however, that given the State’s recent economic difficulties the 2011 figure “confirms Ireland as a destination of choice for people from a wide range of countries”.

Polish nationals (122,585) have overtaken those from the UK (112,259) as the largest non-Irish group living in the State. The number of Polish nationals living here increased by 93.7 per cent between 2006 and 2011, while the number of UK nationals declined by 0.3 per cent. Overall, 544,357 non-Irish nationals were living in Ireland at the time of the 2011 census, an increase of 29.7 per cent or 124,624 on 2006, some 12 per cent of the population.

The rate of growth was considerably slower than in the period covered by the 2006 census when the non-Irish population almost doubled to 419,733.

The sharpest percentage increases in non-Irish-born residents were among Romanians, with the population more than doubling from 8,566 to 17,995 (up 110 per cent) following EU accession in 2007 and people from India, where the community grew by 91 per cent to 17,856.

The largest rise in overall terms was, unsurprisingly, among the Polish-born community which grew from 63,090 to 115,193 (up 83 per cent) in the period.

The growth in the number of Polish-born people was more than five times that recorded in the Lithuanian community, which grew by the second largest number (10,039) to 34,847.

The data highlights considerable increases in the number of Polish-born women and children (aged under 14 years) living in Ireland. The CSO said this was a strong indicator of families being reunited here.

The number of Polish-born women living in the State increased by 142 per cent to 55,584 and the number of children born in Poland more than tripled to 14,172. There were 59,609 Polish-born men living in Ireland on census night 2011.

People born in England and Wales still account for the largest group of individuals living in Ireland that were not born here at 212,286. The rate of growth in the group was small by comparison to many countries between 2006 and 2011 at about 3.7 per cent.

A question on foreign languages was asked for the first time in the 2011 census. And the results show that 514,068 people living in Ireland speak a foreign language at home – some 11 per cent of the population.

Unsurprisingly, Polish – with 119,526 people – was the foreign language most spoken in the home, followed by French (56,430), Lithuanian (31,635), German (27,342) and Spanish (22,446).

More than 25 per cent of those who spoke a foreign language at home were born in Ireland. Of these, 13,690 were children aged three to four years; 26,569 were primary school children and 21,187 were secondary pupils.

Those who said they spoke a foreign language at home were also asked how well they could speak English. Some 80,000 respondents said not well (70,126) or not at all (9,242).

Overall, 48 per cent of respondents to the question said they spoke English very well, 31 per cent said well, 15 per cent said not well and 6 per cent said not at all.

People from Lithuania, at 30 per cent, had the highest proportion of people saying they spoke English not well or at all, quickly followed by people from Latvia at 29 per cent.

Some 99 per cent of people from Denmark living in Ireland said they could speak English well or very well.

The CSO noted that the ability to speak English improved rapidly once a child started school, with about 1 per cent of primary school children not speaking English at all and less than 1 per cent in secondary.

A total of 5,718 people classified as being of working age (25 to 64 years) said they spoke no English at all.

In terms of ethnicity, 85 per cent of Irish residents identify themselves as white Irish, a 4.9 per cent increase on the 2006 census. Immigration from eastern Europe helped to push the number of “other white” respondents up by 43 per cent to 412,975.

Almost two-thirds of those making up ethnic groups other than white Irish were aged 35 years or less. Just 3 per cent in these groups were 65 or older. In contrast, less than half of those in the white Irish group were aged under 35 and 13 per cent were 65 or more.

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Feb 28

A Commuter’s Life

Written by Peter Ross | posted in Uncategorized | 0 Comments

At the weekend I read a very interesting article in the Sunday Times on extreme commutes of English people working in London. As both a Geographer and a Social Researcher I was very interested in this story. The article interviewed many extreme commuters about their daily journeys, some of which are astounding. One women working in business admin has a 215 mile round trip that took a 3 hour chunk out of her daily life. However that was nothing compared to 8 hour round trip from Sutton Coldfield to Heathrow for a 39 year old IT consultant.

Although these extreme commutes aren’t the norm, more than half of London workers commute more than 30 minutes and 1 in 6 more than an hour. I had a look for comparable Irish statistics and the 2009 CSO National Travel Survey states that average work journeys in Ireland were 30 minutes. However this report didn’t provide data on the proportion of workers having extreme commutes or break out results for Dublin workers. What I would suspect without seeing the data is that the extreme commute category has grown, driven by boom time property prices in major urban centres and current increased scarcity of jobs nationwide. Newspaper and TV reports I seen recently back this up.

If you do belong to the extreme commute category not surprisingly there can be many impacts on your life. In the Sunday Times’ article the most obvious initial impact was the cost of the travelling with annual rail tickets being more than £10,000 for some commuters. Researchers in Sweden found that if one partner commutes more than 45 minutes they are 40% more likely to divorce. Other researchers have found disproportionate levels of pain, obesity and stress in long-distance commuters.

Long commuting times aren’t good for friendships either with longer commutes being linked to social isolation. Apparently for every 10 minutes longer on a commuter train your life has 10% fewer social connections, scary stuff although you would have more time for Facebook ‘friends’. For every 10 minutes longer commute you are more likely to miss dinner, miss the school play and celebrate your wedding anniversary by text. Not surprising that the Swedish research found a higher divorce rate amongst longer duration commuters.

So what can be done about this? In the Sunday Times’ article all the featured commuters had white collar jobs. Surely with a little cooperation from their employers they would be allowed to work from home or is it more complicated than that? I know in Ireland the Dublin Transport Office has an initiative to encourage sustainable travel. As we can see from the above information this doesn’t just impact the environment or your wallet but a myriad of factors associated with the quality of people’s lives. Hopefully we can find suitable solutions for everyone in the way we work and travel so the quality of people’s lives can be improved.


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