Designing Questions To Predict Future Behavior

by Mike Summerfield
(Los Angeles, CA USA)

I've recently become aware (probably from reading Malcolm Gladwell) that psychologists and/or sociologists have long known that, if you want to find out how somebody is going to behave in certain conditions or situations, you don't just go up and ask them how they expect to behave in those conditions or situations, because, depending on who else is around listening (friends, colleagues) and what kind of power they perceive the questioner having, the answers will be polluted by how the subject imagines themselves and wishes to be perceived.

In other words, there is a more subtle way of "designing questions" to elicit a more-likely-to-be-true answer than direct query.

Is there a name for this "Design of Questions" sub-field?

Is there a term for the sub-species of psychologist or sociologist that specialize in this? i.e., behavioral psychologists but not cognitive psychologists.

Related Reading

Book Description

In his landmark bestseller The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell redefined how we understand the world around us. Now, in Blink, he revolutionizes the way we understand the world within. Blink is a book about how we think without thinking, about choices that seem to be made in an instant-in the blink of an eye-that actually aren't as simple as they seem. Why are some people brilliant decision makers, while others are consistently inept? Why do some people follow their instincts and win, while others end up stumbling into error? How do our brains really work-in the office, in the classroom, in the kitchen, and in the bedroom? And why are the best decisions often those that are impossible to explain to others?

In Blink we meet the psychologist who has learned to predict whether a marriage will last, based on a few minutes of observing a couple; the tennis coach who knows when a player will double-fault before the racket even makes contact with the ball; the antiquities experts who recognize a fake at a glance. Here, too, are great failures of "blink": the election of Warren Harding; "New Coke"; and the shooting of Amadou Diallo by police. Blink reveals that great decision makers aren't those who process the most information or spend the most time deliberating, but those who have perfected the art of "thin-slicing"-filtering the very few factors that matter from an overwhelming number of variables.

See following link for full details.

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

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