I just answered a telephone survey about consumer protection and consumer advocacy groups, where I got to answer many times that I thought consumer protection in various areas was "very good", and occasionally that it was not so good. I was asked which groups I had heard of, had given money to, or might join in the future. It was probably sponsored by those groups, seeking to increase regulation and the reach of the nanny state.

There were three times when the surveyer departed from the script and made a personal comment. Once was when she asked whether I had any children under the age of two, and when I replied affirmatively, she mentioned that she'd heard him crying in the background. Everyone loves a baby, and kids are an important and personal part of our lives.

The other two were both questions of the form: "Do you Strongly Agree, Agree, Disagree, or Strongly Disagree that the government interferes too much in our lives". I, of course, Strongly Agreed, and the surveyor said something to the effect of "Ain't that the truth!" These were the only times she indicated a personal opinion about one of the answers.

Our governments may be overrun by the fiscally irresponsible Republicans and nannying Democrats, but that doesn't mean the average woman agrees. But of course, that's exactly what we expect - that the voices of those who believe there is a problem are louder than those who think things are just fine, and that the concentrated interests of regulatory groups are more effective than the dispersed interests of random citizens.

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I wonder if the surveyors

I wonder if the surveyors are not encouraged to show agreement with the views of the respondent in order to elicit some particular reaction, or perhaps just honesty.

Given the surveyor's agreement with you about government interference, and the tendency of people to work on causes that they agree with, I'd think it somewhat more probable that the organization sponsoring the survey is more or less in favor of laissez-faire.

James -- I don't know about

James -- I don't know about that. The people who conduct phone surveys are generally not employees of the organization sponsoring the survey. The sponsor probably hired an outside contractor, and the outside contractor hired a bunch of other (probably low wage, mostly unskilled) people to do their calling.

Everyone loves a baby, and

Everyone loves a baby, and kids are an important and personal part of our lives.

And if you're Bryan Caplan, an indispensable asset as well. Utility maximisation, ho! :end:

The survey taker was

The survey taker was obviously doing a bad job by agreeing with you, if her QA people were listening in she will be rebuked.