Monday, October 20, 2008

Anchoring Vignettes - Calm Down Dearest

As Liam has mentioned recently, anchoring vignettes are an important part of modern survey work and they feature regularly as a topic of discussion on this blog (here, here, here).

The examination of individuals’ satisfaction with their job, how they rate their health, or any similar question - is measured through the subjective interpretation of a survey question. This is the context for why “anchoring vignettes” are important - they make self-reported levels of satisfaction, or health, comparable across different individuals. Self-reported levels of satisfaction are not usually comparable because individuals interpret survey questions differently and report levels of satisfaction subjectively. The anchoring vignettes technique is used to:

(i) measure incomparability by asking respondents to assess hypothetical scenarios described in short vignettes
(ii) correcting the incomparability through re-coding or the use of a statistical model

A typical example that is used to illustrate the comparability problem is self-rated health. Individuals who receive better healthcare may rate their health to be lower than individuals who receive worse healthcare. The assumed reason is that individuals who receive better healthcare have 'higher standards' for what constitutes 'good health'. This link leads to Gary King's website on anchoring vignettes. It includes academic papers, vignette examples, links to software, a FAQ, and much more besides about anchoring vignettes. There are also links to two of King's path-leading papers on the method:

Gary King, Christopher J.L. Murray, Joshua A. Salomon, and Ajay Tandon. "Enhancing the Validity and Cross-cultural Comparability of Survey Research," American Political Science Review, 97, 4 (December, 2003); reprinted with printing errors corrected, February, 2004.

Gary King and Jonathan Wand. Comparing Incomparable Survey Responses: New Tools for Anchoring Vignettes, Political Analysis, 15, 1 (Winter, 2007): Pp. 46-66.

A scenario demonstrating the usefulness of vignettes came to mind before when I was listening to "Calm Down Dearest", a song written by Jamie T, a performer from Wimbledon in South London. He defeated Jarvis Cocker and Thom Yorke to win the Best Solo Artist at the 2007 Shockwave NME Awards, and his debut album (the aptly titled 'Panic Prevention') was shortlisted as one of the 12 nominees for the Mercury Prize.

"Calm Down Dearest" documents Jamie's attempts to uncover the true self-rated health of his friend, given that his friend has a consuming cocaine habit. This may just be the interpretation of somebody who has read too much about anchoring vignettes, but you can listen for yourself using the video below. The chorus documents Jamie's frustration with the self-report problem:

"Its heavy, its on my mind; that you say you feel just fine.
Racking and stacking your lines, I said calm down dearest"



Liam Delaney said...

hadnt a rashers what he was saying - need more than anchoring vignettes to understand that song

Kevin Denny said...

calm down liam. izderadifference between rashers and bacon bytheway?

Martin Ryan said...

Bacon is a cut of meat taken from the sides, belly, or back of a pig that has been cured, smoked, or both... The word is derived from the Old High German bacho, meaning "back", "ham", or "bacon"... A side of unsliced bacon is a flitch,[2] while an individual slice of bacon is a rasher (United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, Australia and New Zealand) or simply a slice or strip (North America). Slices of bacon are also known as collops.

There's more info here:

Martin Ryan said...

So technically there is no difference between rashers (plural) and bacon.

Eoin McLaughlin said...

I think you're working too hard, those anchoring vignettes are getting to you.