Posts tagged “gut”

Jen’s War Story: Trust your gut, it can save your life!

Jen Iudice is a Senior Design Researcher with Teague. Here is her story about the road not taken.

Having done ethnographic research for nearly 20 years, I’ve definitely seen it all in the field. Fortunately, that includes coming across some very interesting and enthusiastic participants. On occasion however, there are times when the recruiter misses the boat, things slip through the cracks, and wham bam, you are in a painfully uncomfortable (or in rare cases) a dangerous situation. Hence the challenge of screening: striking a balance between actually screening participants while trying not to lead them. As researchers we are aware of the occasional duds who sneak their way into a study in order to make a buck! This is one of those stories.

Recently, I was charged to do some field research for a client about how people use their personal data; a topic that covered a massive amount of sub topics, and could apply to almost anyone. The screener was carefully developed with the client’s input, and the recruit was filled with a great spectrum of participants. Good so far.

The client was very motivated to participate in the research, which is almost always a positive. However, on this particular occasion my colleague and I were ultimately relieved that he could not make it to this interview!

When we arrived at the location, we noticed an old, run down high-rise building with a bail bondsman conveniently located on the bottom floor. There were several “tenants” taking leisurely “naps” in front of the doorway to greet us. At that moment I felt a terrible sinking feeling in my stomach. My colleague half joking/half seriously said, “I don’t want to go in there Jen…I don’t care if he uses!”

As we drove around the building several times I contemplated: Am I being too judgmental? Could this really be a well-qualified participant that I am simply not willing to accept because of the sketchy appearance of his place of residence? Can we risk entering this building with all of our expensive electronic/video equipment?

My colleague and I decided not to risk ignoring the feeling in our guts, and phoned to cancel the interview.

When the participant answered the phone he sounded very strange and out of sorts. I let him know that we would still pay him for his time, but we could not make it to the interview (translation: we are afraid to come into your building!). He then explained that he had just been robbed at gunpoint in his apartment, and that it was a good thing we did not come over! This became even more concerning when we realized that you could not enter this building without going through a security check-in at the front desk (this was another tip-off that we should not go in!). This event would mean either the security precautions were a joke, or that someone that lives in the building had robbed him! Needless to say, I did not ask any details, and he continued to talk to me about how distraught he was. I did my best to try and console the man and wished him luck with his situation. AWKWARD!

It boggles my mind to think about what could have happened if we had followed through with this interview! As one could imagine, I “verbalized my concerns” to the recruiter (i.e., I gave them an earful!), but moving forward, I will always map out my in-home interviews and will always make sure I have a colleague with me on every interview…just to be safe!

Be careful out there, everyone. Always be aware of your surroundings. If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t!

ChittahChattah Quickies

Give And Take: How The Rule Of Reciprocation Binds Us [NPR] – While “you can’t control other people” is a constant life lessons, it’s interesting to consider what science teaches about how we can influence and induce behaviors in others.

Kunz was a sociologist at Brigham Young University. Earlier that year he’d decided to do an experiment to see what would happen if he sent Christmas cards to total strangers. And so he went out and collected directories for some nearby towns and picked out around 600 names. “I started out at a random number and then skipped so many and got to the next one,” he says. To these 600 strangers, Kunz sent his Christmas greetings: handwritten notes or a card with a photo of him and his family. And then Kunz waited to see what would happen. About five days later, responses started filtering back – slowly at first and then more, until eventually they were coming 12, 15 at a time. Eventually Kunz got more than 200 replies. “I was really surprised by how many responses there were,” he says. “And I was surprised by the number of letters that were written, some of them three, four pages long…We got cards for maybe 15 years,” he says.

Tapping citizen-scientists for a novel gut check [SF Chron] – While we always come up with new methods to get people involved in data collecting for research, this was something I hadn’t really thought of before. By the way, the notion of the microbiome is a fascinating one that seems to be continually gaining traction. Although we haven’t had the guts (if you will) to actually do it, we declared we would stop using “ecosystem” in client presentations and start talking about “microbiomes.”

Now for a fee – $69 and up – and a stool sample, the curious can find out just what’s living in their intestines and take part in one of the hottest new fields in science. The American Gut Project, aims to enroll 10,000 people – and a bunch of their dogs and cats too – from around the country. uBiome, separately aims to enroll nearly 2,000 people from anywhere in the world. Scott Jackisch, a computer consultant in Oakland, Calif., ran across American Gut while exploring the science behind different diets, and signed up last week. He’s read with fascination earlier microbiome research: “Most of the genetic matter in what we consider ourselves is not human, and that’s crazy. I wanted to learn about that.” Testing a single stool sample costs $99 in that project, but he picked a three-sample deal for $260 to compare his own bacterial makeup after eating various foods. “I want to be extra, extra well,” said Jackisch, 42. Differing gut microbes may be the reason “there’s no one magic bullet of diet that people can eat and be healthy.”

“We don’t just want people that have a gut-ache. We want couch potatoes. We want babies. We want vegans. We want athletes. We want anybody and everybody because we need that complete diversity,” added American Gut co-founder Jeff Leach, an anthropologist.

White points mean prizes for safe driving in Dubai [The National] – Is our preference for carrot or stick culturally constructed? Schemes that give students rewards for good grades are often seen as “bribery” and decried for encouraging the wrong thing. Yet inverting our punishment-based driving-record approach seems so kindly. I suppose its efficacy needs to be proven, whether in Dubai or Dubuque.

Motorists who go the longest period without a traffic violation will be given priority in a new police system that rewards good driving with prizes, including a car. Under the white points system, drivers of vehicles registered in Dubai are awarded a point for each month without traffic offences or Salik toll-road fines. Drivers who go 12 months without any violations will be eligible for prizes worth a minimum of Dh500 each. Dubai Police say there will be between 250 to 500 prizes. The head of Dubai Police traffic department, Maj Gen Mohammed Saif Al Zaffin, said today that if there were more good drivers than prizes then those with the longest standing clean sheets would be given priority. “We have a specific budget for the prizes so there might need to be a selection process based on the number of people who will be eligible for a prize as part of the scheme,” Maj Gen Al Zaffin said.

How a gut feeling becomes a hunch

A bit of inspiration from a recent New Yorker – Tree Line, Kansas, 1934, a story by David Means.

That afternoon, as he crawled back to Barnes, the gut feeling worked its way up his throat and struggled into his head. Note: A gut feeling finally becomes a hunch when it is transmuted into the form of clear, precise, verbal statements uttered aloud to a receptive listener-internal or external-who responds in kind. A hunch twists inside the sinews and bones, integrating itself into the physicality of the moment, whereas a gut feeling can only struggle to become a hunch, and, once it does, is recognized in retrospect as a gut feeling.


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