Friday, 28 October 2005

Fun with data mining

I’ve been doing some SPSS labs with my methods class this semester, and I stumbled upon a mildly interesting little finding: in the 2000 National Election Study, the mean feeling thermometer rating* of gays and lesbians is higher among respondents with cable or satellite TV than among those who do not have cable/satellite. It’s marginally significant (p = .057 or so in a two-tailed independent-samples t test). I’m not sure if the cable/satellite variable is standing in for a “boonies versus suburbs/urban areas” thing or something else.

It’s also fun because the test is significant at the .05 level if you do a one-tailed test (though, since I have no a priori theory as to why cable/satellite households would like gay people more than non-cable households, I’m not sure a one-tailed test is legitimate), but not significant at .05 if you do a two-tailed test, so it’s useful in illustrating that marginal case.

* Basically, the NES asks people to rate various people and groups on a 0–100 scale, called a “feeling thermometer,” where ambivalence is theoretically 50, absolute dislike is 0, and maximium warm-and-fuzzy feelings is 100. They’re kind of goofy measures, but they’re allegedly interval-level (they’re usually more like 11-point ordinal scales in practice), so you can actually do interval stuff with them (unlike 99% of survey questions).