What are the problems you would run into when designing a poll trying to understand the level of recreational drug use (i.e. marijuana) among 18 to 30-year-olds? In your response, be sure to describe some of the major flaws common to public opinion polls. Be as thorough and specific as possible.
Although there are many ways to try to understand the level of recreational drug use among 18 to 30-year-olds, designing a poll comes with its own set of problems. In particular, the cohort of 18 to 30-year-olds is a notoriously difficult group to reach with traditional polling methods, as they are less likely to have landlines and more likely to rely heavily on mobile devices and social media. Aside from that, the issue of recreational drug use is a sensitive one that people may not be comfortable discussing with strangers, leading to a potential for under-reporting. This essay will discuss some major problems that could arise when designing a poll on this topic.
As a first example, self-selection bias may occur when people who strongly feel about an issue are more likely to respond to a poll. Two factors can cause this: the people participating in the poll are not representative of the population as a whole, or the people responding to a particular question are not representative of the previous questions. In addition, public opinion polls often suffer from low response rates, which can again lead to bias in the results. Various reasons could lead to a low response rate, such as people needing more time to participate or feeling that their opinions are unimportant. Generally, low response rates is a problem when trying to reach specific groups of people, such as 18 to 30-year-olds. This group is often harder to reach than other groups, as they are less likely to have landlines and more likely to rely heavily on mobile devices and social media. As a result, any poll on this topic is likely to suffer from low response rates or self-selection bias.
Question-wording is another challenge in designing a poll. It is possible that the wording of a question can influence the answer someone provides. On the one hand, a question implying that recreational drug use is illegal may lead respondents to say they have not used drugs recreationally, even if they have. In contrast, if the question implies that drug use is legal, respondents may be more willing to say they have used drugs recreationally. Additionally, recreational drugs users use them in varied ways. Due to this, it is difficult to design questions that accurately measure the level or type of drug use among this group. Research by the Department of Health and Human Services has shown that people who use drugs recreationally tend to use various drugs, and how they use them can vary greatly. Varying uses complicate survey design because questions must be worded to capture all potential uses. This means poll designers must carefully word their questions to ensure that it captures the full range of drug use among this group.
Members of this cohort may also be dishonest when answering drug use questions. This could be for various reasons, such as feeling that their answers may be used against them or simply wanting to appear as law-abiding citizens. This type of dishonesty can lead to an underestimation of the level of drug use among this group. This cohort may also be more likely to misreport due to the potential stigma associated with recreational drug use. Recreational drugs are still associated with many negative connotations, and respondents may want to limit certain details about their drug use to avoid judgement.
Several factors clearly complicate the design of a poll on recreational drug use among 18 to 30-year-olds. In most cases, it is difficult to reach people in this cohort using traditional polling methods. Moreover, recreational drug use is a sensitive subject that many individuals feel uncomfortable discussing. Furthermore, self-selection bias, low response rates, and question-wording problems can all contribute to inaccurate results. Despite these challenges, it is still possible to gain valuable insights into the recreational drug use of this group by carefully designing a poll that takes these factors into account.