Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Interviewing the Public

I found this assignment to be much more challenging. I don’t feel terribly nervous about meeting new people, but it’s a different story when you feel like you’re hassling strangers. I asked 3 randomly selected members of the public a series of questions, some of which were more personal than others. I found that a lot of people were more willing to help me in my interviews than others, but I don’t blame them as I instantly shut off when approached in the street to answer a questionnaire or to be offered some service or product. I went ahead with the assignment with my questions written in my notebook, but left some room for people to go off course a little, without letting them go off the topic completely. My first question was what is your most treasured possession, and I found the answers differed greatly depending whether or not the person I was interviewing was male or female. I asked two women and a man, the women both presented quite sentimental possessions, such as a ring and a cat. The man I asked said he couldn’t decide between his flat screen telly or his Xbox. Later in the interview I discovered he was a student, so his answer isn’t that surprising! The women’s answers however, do show that they are more emotionally attached to their treasured possessions, whereas the man’s possessions were more functional. I then asked them if they had purchased these possessions themselves, and if they hadn’t I asked what relationship they had with the person who had purchased them. The lady with the ring had it bought for her by her husband on their anniversary, and she informed me that they had just recently celebrated their second wedding anniversary, with a big smile on her face, and it took me too long to realise I was smiling like a big goon back at her. Happiness is contagious! The woman with the adoring cat bought it for herself when she moved into a new house to keep her company, so I assumed she wasn’t married, but it was nice that she found comfort in her cat’s company. The student with the TV and the Xbox had worked over the summer and Christmas to pay for his gadgets, and he looked quite proud of himself. I asked him if he appreciated them more because he had had to work for them and he agreed. I tried not to force people to answer the way I wanted them to, but found it quite tricky. Another question I asked all three was that if they had the chance to replace their chosen items, would they and if so, why or why not? The student told me he had insurance on both so he wasn’t too bothered if he had to replace him because he would “just buy a bigger telly”. The woman with the ring said she couldn’t replace the ring, but I secretly think if something happened to it she would want her husband to buy her something equally special to replace it. The woman with the cat said the only way she would replace her cat was if it died, but she said she hoped this wouldn’t happen for another few years yet as the cat was only 4. I was quite lucky in the people who let me interview them in that they were all quite laid back about it, and were more than willing to take time out of their day to help me. I tried to make the three people I was interviewing as varying as possible, but it turned out in the end that they were all (as an estimate) between the ages of 20 and 30. If I was to redo this assignment, I would have preferred to interview a larger number of people to get a wider set of answers. It would also have been helpful to ask an equal number of males and females, just to get an fair perspective on the difference in answers. The only other thing I would have changed would have been to do the assignment in pairs, and either pair with another couple and compare answers, or do this in my own pair. I feel it would have been much less daunting doing it with a friend along side. Nevertheless, it did feel quite good to do something I wouldn’t usually, and gave me a little bit of a confidence boost.

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