People Meters show more use of radio and tv than reported

According to a study in the USA people often behave differently from what they report in some radio and tv surveys.

Researchers at Ball State University in Indiana have found that people use up to twice as much media as they report in listening diaries and telephone surveys.

In a study commissioned by the University, the researchers followed 101 people through an entire day—from the moment they woke to the moment they went to sleep, recording their actual media usage behaviour.

The study then compared the observed findings to two common forms of media research: written diaries and telephone samples.

The academic researchers found that most media usage was greatly underreported, especially in telephone surveys and called for the use of People Meters to address that problem.

The study found consistent underreporting for TV viewing. Study participants logged in diaries that they reportedly watched 278 minutes of television a day, while the Ball State observers recorded actual viewing of 319 minutes.

The Ball State researchers surmised that people are reluctant to admit to the real amount of television they watch, because it doesn’t reflect well on how they spend their time. The use of near-passive measurement tools, such as the people meters, goes some way to removing that reporting bias.

The Ball State study also observed that people listen to slightly more radio than they report in diaries.

(Source: Arbitron newsletter)