One of the things I love about my job as a social science researcher is the way tiny points of methodology make a huge difference in how respondents experience and respond to a survey. The placement of a button, the order questions, the smallest turn of phrase — it’s amazing how these things create clarity or obfuscate.
A recent study found that signing the top of a form — before filling it out — leads to more honest responses on the form. It’s such a small thing, but it seems to have a big impact. One could despair over results like these. Maybe they mean that true communication is impossible. I prefer to think it’s a puzzle we can solve. Of course, that does assume that truth is the goal.