Social Question

wundayatta's avatar

Do you answer income questions on questionnaires?

Asked by wundayatta (58571points) August 2nd, 2010

I was reading the “Poor or Rich” question and it made me think about who is willing to divulge financial information. I think that when pollsters ask us questions, we tend to feel a strong urge to please them. That’s why they ask the personal questions after all the rest.

They usually ask about ranges of income, like a) $0—$30k, b) $30–50k, c) $50–70k d)$70–90k e) $90–110k f) $110–250k g) $250–1,000k h) $1,000k and up.

If you get a question like this, do you a) refuse to answer? b) Answer but lie? c) answer and tell the truth?

Why do you answer the way you do?
Would you answer the income question above? If so, please do and tell us if it is truthful or not. If you lie, do you usually lie under or over your real income?

Notice that I am setting this up for failure

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16 Answers

Austinlad's avatar

I do, truthfully, when it’s an application for which an income response is required—but only if it’s a range. I try never to give my exact income amount.

JilltheTooth's avatar

@wundayatta : Because you specifically mentioned pollsters, no, I don’t. Ain’t nobody’s business but my own.

downtide's avatar

I only answer when it’s something to do with tax or pensions. If it’s market research I leave it blank. My income is none of anyone else’s business. Actually no. Sometimes I lie and tick the lowest possible income bracket, or no income at all – it stops marketers assuming I want to buy their products.

evandad's avatar

Sure, but my answers always keep the wolves at bay.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I answer honestly if it is a range and I trust the questioner.
If it is for marketing purposes I skip it. But, if it’s required to fill out a certain online form, I underestimate significantly.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I answer because I don’t get the American concern with how much people make and why that can’t be divulged.

ratboy's avatar

I answer truthfully: “N/A.”

wundayatta's avatar

Apparently, the new federal law regarding the finance sector requires them to ask for income. This is, presumably, so they can keep people from getting credit who may not be able to handle it.

This is absurd to me. You have no way of verifying it, so people will say what they want or need to say. I guess it could be verified if it is connected with tax records, but that’s supposed to be illegal.

JilltheTooth's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir : Unfortunately, many market groups sell their lists and then we are inundated with ads and pleas. Many trees lost, many postal carriers backs hurt cuz of extra junk mail weight.

Jeruba's avatar

I think they ask the personal questions last because by then we are already invested in the answers we’ve given.

When I decline to answer, they say, “We need that information for demographic purposes.” In other words, whoever is sponsoring the survey wants to know how opinions correlate to income brackets so they’ll know which ones to pay the most attention to—because you’re likelier to buy their product, vote for their measure, listen to their station, or whatever—or whether to target you with further advertising, requests for donations, etc.

If they say, “Your response is invalidated if you don’t give this information—we can’t tabulate it,” I say, “Oh, that’s too bad. Sorry.”

Considering the huge amount of information that is already gathered, stored, and made available about us, not just to some authority but to pretty much anyone who wants it, I don’t feel like adding to it. So I don’t routinely fill out questionnaires about anything, but I do occasionally respond to opinion surveys.

For the record, I don’t feel any urge to please them. I generally feel something between suspicion and simple annoyance at the intrusion. But I answer when I think my opinion will become part of a body of information that may affect me or my community—such as whether I think the schools are getting too much money already and more of it ought to go to building a new sports stadium in my neighborhood.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@JilltheTooth No, I know that – I don’t fill out anything having to do with market research – except once when I entered into a focus group organization that occasionally enrolls me in market research for certain things having to do with parenting and I do it for the money they pay me but I receive zero mail.

YARNLADY's avatar

I answer the general range (e).

perspicacious's avatar

It depends on whether I think it’s relevant. If it’s not I don’t answer or I answer incorrectly.

OpryLeigh's avatar

Yes, I don’t care who knows how much I earn.

wundayatta's avatar

@Leanne1986 I don’t know if you can answer this, but why don’t you care? It seems like most people want to keep that private, as if ashamed of it, or maybe to avoid a nasty kind of competition. Why are you willing to share?

OpryLeigh's avatar

@wundayatta It just doesn’t bother me if people know or not. If someone asks me outright what I earn I will tell them. I’m not ashamed of it, I can’t afford luxuries but it is enough for me to live on and as it is not very high (especially compared to some the people in the company I work for) there is no worry about competon for me.

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