Monday, June 14, 2004

quiz feature!

So, the main thing I have been doing for the past week here in the RVSRC* is to try to figure out how to write the programs needed to score (and check) the cognition tasks included in the WLS**. Thrills galore, lemme tellya.

Two of the tasks test one's "letter fluency" and "category fluency". The instructions for WLS "letter fluency" go as follows:
I am going to say a letter of the alphabet, and I want you to say as quickly as you can all of the words you can think of that begin with that letter. You may say any word at all except proper names of people or places, like "Michael" or "Madison" if the letter I said was M. Also, do not use the same words again with a different ending, such as "eat" and "eating" if the letter I said was E. ... You will have only one minute to do this.
Respondents are then asked either to name words that begin with "F as in Frank" or words that begin with "L as in Linda".***

A few minutes later, respondents are asked to do the "category fluency" task:
I am going to name a [bold]category[n] and you should name, as fast as you can, all of the things that you can think of that belong in that category. For example, if I said "articles of clothing" you could say shirt, tie, or hat, or if I said "jobs" you could say "teacher, lawyer, or nurse". You will have one minute to do this.
Respondents are then asked to name either as many animals or as many foods as they can.

So, here's the quiz: What are the F- and L- words most commonly named by respondents? And what are the animals and foods? A brief note about the top of the distribution of each:

F: There is a clear #1 here, with that word being named by 31% of respondents compared to for 22% for the two words running neck-and-neck for #2. One of the words vying for #2 is the #1 word plus two letters.

L: There is an even clearer #1 here, named by 45% of people compared to only 27% who said the #2 word. Moreover, the #1 word is the very first word named by almost one-fourth of respondents, which is about six times more often than any other single word is the first L word named.

animals: Two animals are virtually tied for #1 and well ahead of the others. Over 90% of respondents name each of these animals, compared to only 75% for the #3 animal. Moreover, somewhere between 98-99% of respondents who name one of the #1 animals name the other as well.

foods: Not as clear a pattern as the other three tasks. The #1 food was said by 59%, compared to 52% for the #2 food. After these two words, the foods rounding out the top 5 are ounding out the top 5 are "meat", "apple", and, intriguingly, "carrot."

Anyway, I know you must be dying with suspense. But, I'll post the answers in a couple days. Money is a little tight around the RV this month, or else I would offer to send an offical JFW kewpie doll to the first person who e-mails me mostly correct answers.

* [R]ecreational [V]ehicle [S]ocial [R]esearch [C]ompound

** [W]isconsin [L]ongitudinal [S]tudy, an ongoing survey of 1957 Wisconsin high school graduates (surveys done in 1957, '64, '75, '92, and now).

*** It's random whether they get "F" or "L". We chose "F" and "L" because "F" is commonly used in this task and because a search of the dictionary revealed that "L" was the consonant that had about the same number of pages of words starting with that letter as "F". Originally, we just said "F" or "L" and not the "as in Frank/as in Linda" part. However, a nontrivial number of people would hear "F" as "S" and start saying words beginning with "S." This problem has mostly gone away now that we say "F as in Frank", although there are still some people who respond as if we had said "S as in Srank." Asking people to name as many words as they can that begin with "F" has not, as we had worried, resulted in a stream of profanities being hurled at interviewers.

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