Tag Archives: surveys

If You Don’t Mind, It Don’t Matter

26 May

Finland was once again voted as the happiest country on Earth… which probably comes as a surprise to the hard-drinking, sauna-loving Finns. However, the answer to their success is not one of quality of life, but rather perspective.

What the researchers have discovered is that the Finns are happy because their expectations aren’t that high. In their general opinion, if you have your basic needs are met, that’s everything, and you are happy. There’s a lot to be said about that. I’ve only met one Finnish family, and they grew up American, but generally I found them to be pretty happy. Certainly I’ve met plenty of Scandinavian descendants in the American Midwest and they seemed about as happy as people get.

If you had to take Educational Psychology (“ed psych”) in college, you’re familiar with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The theory goes that if you don’t have your basic needs, then you’re not concerned about more philosophical issues. In other words, if you’re starving, you’re not asking yourself, “What is my purpose in life?” You only worry about finding friends and soulmates when you’re not worried about the death squads roaming the streets. So the needs build on each other.

So until you’re in a comfortable state, and all your needs are met, you can’t address the bigger issues. In fact, you’re more likely to dwell on the bigger issues when all you lesser needs are met. To give a weird example, W.E.B. Dubois pushed “colored people” to finish high school and college, because he was convinced that the more you know about the world, the more you’re unsatisfied with the world as is. In other words, “Education makes you unhappy.”

So how do the Finns achieve this higher level of happiness? First off, as I’ve talked about polls before, some of it is how the researchers phrased the questions. If you believe that if your “belly is full and your bladder empty” so you’re happy, then that’s gonna skew the results. Now maybe you think that sitting in your house, drinking vodka with your pants off, is not your idea of happiness, but the Finns have a word for that. (The word is kalsarikännit = pants drunk)

Idioms can tell you a lot about how a culture views the world. Take “joulutorttu,” the feeling of having one too many. It’s actually a Christmas pastry with jam in the middle, and you’re going to burn your mouth on the first one. But you do it anyway, because of the “kaamos,” the long period of darkness during the winter. Or because the Finns tend to be more isolated than most, “lavatanssit,” the joy of meeting someone.

Well, hey… “Suomi mainittu!” (Someone mentioned Finland!) If I’m going to sum it up, I would say that Finns have real problems of dealing with the cold and dark much more than most people, so when you’re dealing with how do I keep warm continually (a survival need), you’re more happy when you do. Of course, I’ve never been to Finland–do you have a better perspective? Let me know in the comments below! Then if you need to keep warm, check out one of my books. However, if you need $1.99 to buy vodka, go ahead and download one of my stories for free.

Survey Says?

18 May

So recently, I’ve fallen into the habit of taking surveys for money, and it’s an interesting universe. What marketers and academics are interested in hearing about and what they’re willing to pay for that information becomes research in and of itself.

Where this all started was with my wife–since she’s doing research for a dissertation–she needed to reach a wider audience so that she could get better results for her survey. Someone introduced her to a website called Prolific and she got double number of results that she had previously. So… success! However, it required a lot of money that she really didn’t have as a graduate student, but thankfully, someone had some extra money in their fund that they transferred to her use.

I thought–wow! Getting paid to do academic surveys? That sounds pretty cool. So they wanted to know a lot of information about yourself, which is understandable, so that you can weed out surveys that don’t apply to you. However, the information became more and more detailed. Finally, they wanted my personal information, including a screenshot of my ID, and that’s where I started to get worried. I made sure to check the website out, made sure it was legitimate, and then submitted the information. I got an email saying I was rejected.

What?! You make me go through actually showing you my ID to prove I’m a real person to tell me that you’re not Prolific material. Oh, hell no! So I write them back demanding an explanation. They reply saying “they don’t monitor this email account and could you reply through their service desk?” It took me a while to do that and… va-voom! Suddenly I get access.

What was the difference? My guess is that as long as my wife’s survey was live, they couldn’t use my input. Now that it’s closed, it’s open season for me. I’ve filled out three and got a couple dollars credit I can convert over to hard cash soon.

While I was waiting, there’s plenty of other apps which provide the same opportunities for regular marketing issues. These are not as exciting–and not as profitable–but they require very little to confirm who you are. I fell into Survey Junkie and rather enjoy it. They do a whole thing involving points that convert directly into USD pennies for… reasons. I guess that allows them to collect information for internal surveys to sell your information to get more marketers.

It reminds me of a lecture one of the lawyers I was working with explained. People get upset when they sell your data; but if you pay them for your data, they’re willing to give it for free. Modern people know that so much of your data is being stolen from you all the time, but hey, I get a free app out of it, so why not? However, there’s a limit to how much data theft we’re willing to take… but if you pay them for their data, suddenly all objection vanishes. That’s going to be the future of data mining.

Of course, what the heck would I know? I just make eLearning modules. Maybe you have a better insight than I do. If so, let me know in the comments below! And while you’re at my site, why not pick up one of my books? However, if you need to take a few more surveys to pay for it, download one of my stories for free!

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