MadSci Network: Neuroscience

Re: Is friend to vague of a term for a social psychology experiment?

Date: Sat Oct 20 19:14:49 2012
Posted By: Alex Goddard, Postdoctoral fellow, Stanford University
Area of science: Neuroscience
ID: 1350513554.Ns

Hi there,

       Good question! In many branches of science, the biggest impediment to progress has to do with the words people choose. When two groups don't agree on what a particular word means, trouble abounds.

       The term 'friend' can meet different things to different people. Even 'good friend' may be somewhat unclear. The best thing you can do is be very explicit about what you consider a good friend. Is it:

  1. Someone you can tell your biggest worries to?
  2. Someone you call on the phone every day?
  3. Someone who you spend most of your time with?
I recommend that list a few qualities that you see in a "good friend" at the beginning of your survey. (i.e. state, "I define a good friend as having these qualities: x,y,z") That way, people will know what you mean. You could also ask them at the end of the survey if they agree with your definition of "good friend." You might see some different, interesting results from the people depending on whether they do or don't agree with you.

Hope that helps!

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