Your Sample Source Can Contaminate Your Decision Making

When you eat food, you assume its water source has not been contaminated. That’s a critical assumption because contamination of a water source has an impact on everything down the food chain.

When coal plants fire up, mercury is released in the smoke. The mercury falls by rain into the water where it is absorbed by algae, which is eaten by smaller fish, which in turn is eaten by larger fish until there are high enough levels of mercury in fish like albacore tuna that the government recommends limiting the amount of tuna you eat.

Source also has important implications when it comes to sample. If sample is recruited from a source that has a bias, that bias will influence the data. If the data is wrong, the decision made by the company that is using the data will be misguided. If a company makes a bad decision, it loses money and perhaps its reputation suffers. That’s not the outcome we want when we do research.

We conducted a study to look at the effect of using a loyalty program as a sample source. This study is the latest in a series of research on research projects where we look at sample reliability and validity. We have previously examined the impact of river sample and sample that is answered only to get access to gated content. We found that the motivation of the respondents can make a large difference in the representativeness and quality of the data.

In this latest study we are interested in understanding the impact of recruiting people from a singular source, in this case a loyalty program. In this research we compared the results of a survey with two matching samples.

One sample was drawn from a community of people who are part of a loyalty program. The other sample was extracted from our Angus Reid Forum.

The results are summarized in a short whitepaper entitled Wine, Cheese, Scotch and Sample: Know the Source.

Download the Whitepaper