Monday, July 31, 2006
note that manipulation begins with 'man'
(it's not illegal or anything to scan cash, right?)
So last week I agreed to do a Nielsen survey for $15 but then, upon considering lessons to be taken from my recent quasi-epiphanic reading of Women Don't Ask, I sent them an e-mail saying I'd only do it if they gave me more money. The original payment was already on its way, of course, and I received the check the other day. If you believe the previous sentence, you are ignorant of the ways of contemporary science-based surveys. Of course they wouldn't send me a check. The science is to say cash, because I'll feel more morally obligated that way, whereas with a check I can always just not deposit it. (Note, incidentally, that it costs Nielsen nontrivially more to send cash than a check, for a variety of reasons, but they do cash anyway because cash works so much better.) Not only did I know they would send the $15 as cash, but I knew the bills would be crispy new (survey respondents are known to respond more favorably to crisp bills) and that they wouldn't send me a $10 and a $5 (for a $10 incentive, it's known that two $5 bills work better than one $10 bill, presumably because it somehow seems like more money).
I learned I'm not fully up on the science, though, because I was expecting three $5 bills. Instead, I get two $5s and five $1s. Which has to be more effective than three $5s, because it costs more to send $5s and $1s than just $5s, and everything Nielsen does is either going to be respondent-manipulation-science optimal or an experiment to figure out something even more optimally optimal.
You might wonder whether I would be reticient to spend the $15 even though I'm not doing the survey without more money. I mean: isn't that dishonest? Perhaps Old Me would have thought that. I didn't ask them to send me cash, however. They sent me cash precisely because it's supposed to make me feel more guilty and do their survey. New Me is not so easily maniupulated. New Me got some ice cream yesterday, and paid for it with crispy-new $1 bills.