Keeping scores in research

Bo2 Went to #measurement camp yesterday and jolly interesting it was too. I am amazed by how many it attracts. There was an interesting comment made about the net promoter score which was create by Reicheld – would you recommend this product.  And how advocates give a 9-10 score that they definitely would promote the product. Alas the British are a cautious bunch and their advocates tend to score only 8-9 – they don't want to get too carried away. Which gives me all the pretext I need to show a picture of Bo Derek who of course Dudley More awarded a perfect 10 – how very West Coast. And platform 9 3/4 at Kings Cross which all Harry Potter aficionados will know is where you catch the train to Hogwarts. Brits are suspicious of a perfect 10 – it sounds too OTT (over the top).

Using scores in research is one of those arbitrary things – it is done all the time so it must be valid. But it is an intrinsically odd activity. Scales as such are only 3 years old. Invented I think by Descartes who lying on his sickbed invented the XY co-ordinate system to describe the position of a fly on his ceiling. But what is it exactly that we are measuring. I'm not going to get back into that old debate about 4 number scales versus 5 number scales so we can force people away from giving a number in the middle. But it shows how arbitrary they are. Give people 5 numbers the distribution won't be even.Give them 10 or 20 in the scale and the distribution will reflect the relatively simplistic way in which humans think. In Predictably Irrational Don Arielly has shown how variable these scales are – and very easy for the savvy researcher to manipulate to get the answer they want. Wedo binary quite well. But get us on a continuum and we get confused. Which is why national differences like being less categoric – give different scores for advocacy.

Platform_9_3_4 I mention this also because of the fashion for sentiment scores – I can now tag bloggers and twitterers as positive or negative. What exactly does this mean – and what would they understand by it? Are we trying to accentuate the positive. Or turn the negative? Is it the communication that is negative – or is the poster depressed. Once they have let fly with their negative – (Bloody trains) – then often they feel better for having expressed it – so perhaps the blogger/twitterverse is less bitter and twisted than those without the outlet. 

What these scorecards don't do at all well is distinguish between the sentiment associated with the context. With the communication. And with the mood the person which may change from moment. One reason why creative ideas and interactivity is so important is the ability to bounce a person from one needstate to another. Binary scores just don't cut it. But neither do those bloody scales..

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