Surprise! What People Say and What They Do May Be Different

Surprise! What People Say and What They Do May Be Different

EMarketer reports that Ball State's Center for Media Design "shadowed" adults to monitor their media intake, collected individual media diaries and surveyed people over the phone to see how far off phone surveys are from "reality."

Specifically, the study determined that adults said over the phone that they watch two hours of TV per day, but when they were observed by researchers, they were logged watching five hours and 19 minutes of TV each day. As for the Internet, over the phone adults told researchers they spend 29 minutes per day online, but when actually observed, researchers determined adults spend over an hour each day online... and so on.

Time Spent with Various Media by Method of Observation (minutes/day July/Aug 2003)

Phone SurveyDiaryShadow Observation

Phone / Shadow Difference

Home computer215264205%

Source: Ball State University Center for Media Design, Feb 2004

Ball State surveyed people only in what it terms "Middletown America" -- taking the phrase from landmark sociological studies conducted by Robert and Helen Lynd in the 1920s -- among people living in Muncie and Delaware County, Indiana.

The researcher observations found that a number of adults made telephone calls, checked e-mail and opened postal mail while they watched TV, but those people keeping diaries tended not to note these few-minute-long instances. BIGresearch reports at least 20% of each age group of US consumers it surveyed in 2003 said they regularly go online while they are watching TV. Many also read mail or the newspaper.

Media Regularly (routinely) Used by US Consumers While Watching TV (% of respondents March/Apr 2003)

Listen to radio4.
Go online23.829.028.529.126.420.8
Read magazines7.
Read newspaper6.910.19.310.410.27.8
Read mail11.512.811.511.211.49.0

Source: BIGresearch, Apr 2003

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