Sampling (statistics)/Example/Shere Hite - American sexology

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Sampling Example: Shere Hite - ‘American Sexology’

Shere Hite conducted a famous survey of American male-female relations in the early 1980's.

  • Shere Hite ‘doyenne of sex polls’
  • Media furors & worldwide attention
  • 127-item questionnaire about marriage & relations between sexes
  • Sample: 4500 USA women, 14 to 85 years
  • Conclusion: Society and men need to change to improve lives of women

Some of Hite’s findings about American women

  • Only 13% married for 2+years were still in love
  • 70% married for 5+ years were having affairs...usually more for 'emotional closeness’ than sex
  • 76% of these women did not feel guilty
  • 87% had a closer female friend than husband
  • 98% wanted “basic changes” to love relationships
  • 84% were emotionally unsatisfied
  • 95% reported emotional & psychological harassment from their men

Some of the critical comments "She goes in with prejudice & comes out with a statistic."

  • "The survey often seems merely to provide an occasion for the author’s own male-bashing diatribes."
  • "Hite uses statistics to bolster her opinion that American women are justifiably fed up with American men."

Hite's response rate & selection bias

  • 100,000 questionnaires were sent to a variety of women’s groups (feminist organisations, church groups, garden clubs etc.)
  • 4,500 replied (4.5% return rate)
  • “We get pretty nervous if respondents in our survey go under 70%. Respondents to surveys differ from nonrespondents in one important way: they go to the trouble of filling out what in this case was a very long, complicated, and personal questionnaire.” - Regina Herzog, University of Michigan Institute for Social Research

Lessons from Hite's male-female relations survey

  • Sample size – it's not how big, it's how representative
  • Objectivity – watch out for manipulating the survey questions and results interpretation to suit your personal conjectures