Make your own free website on

Eliminating Bias in Research

TappedIn April 2, 2003


Since I’ll be late to class on Wednesday (I have a meeting at my daughter’s school that will last until at least 8:00, probably later knowing the school), I am posing my answers to the exercise to this Tripod site. Enjoy.


First, make a list of your characteristics:


  1. Gender: Male
  2. Age: 36
  3. Ethnicity: Caucasian/non-Hispanic
  4. Religion: Christian/Protestant
  5. Extremely Moderate Republican
  6. Favorite Psychological Theory: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs


Add four more characteristics: words or phrases that are desdcriptive of you as an individual.


  1. Father/Daddy of 2 girls
  2. Donor
  3. Teacher
  4. Student



Obvious Biases:

1.    List ways in which your characteristics might bias you in your efforts at research interviewing.

·      Ethnicity may play a role in defining my reaction to what others might say, especially if they are from different ethnicities/cultures.

·      Maleness; may engender me to some other people, or bias me against others. For instance, I was never a “jock” in school (and in fact was beat up by several of them). That may bias me against extremely athletic persons, especially males. On a similar note, attractive females may engender some bias also.

·      Socio-Economic Status (SES): may be a perceived bias due to SES of interviewee. Unclear how exactly to define this (see below also)

·      Gender of Interviewee (see above)

·      Education level of Interviewee; since I am well educated, bias might exist among less-educated and/or those who do not value education.

·      As a father of girls, I may be biased against boys (I don’t trust them. I know what they’re like—I was one once. No, you may NOT date my daughter…)


2.    Write how you might counteract these biases

·      Write all questions beforehand

·      Interview in a neutral setting

·      Audio and/or video-tape interview


3.    Write how these efforts to counteract your biases might themselves lead to other biases

·      Written questions might not be balanced

·      Written questions will need to be aligned so as not to introduce bias of SES, ethnicity, education level, etc.

·      Questions may not be open-ended enough to allow proper responses by some interviewees

·      Setting might be more comfortable for me, and may in fact may not be “neutral” for all participants. For instance, a “neutral” coffee shop would be different than a “neutral” meeting at Starbucks.




If I have read the assignment correctly, the rest of this exercise is to be done in dialogue (presumably in class). I will get to class as soon as possible, but certainly not before 8, and perhaps as late as 8:45.