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US study claims ‘jokesters’ skew data for research into LGBT young people

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  1. Midnighter 5 Jan 2014, 4:23pm

    It seems to me this entire phenomenon could be entirely explained by flawed methodology and a breach of trust on the part of those gathering / holding the data.

    If youngsters are later claiming they are straight and these individuals can be linked to their specific responses in the original questionnaire, then it would suggest that the student’s data has not been gathered anonymously or treated confidentially.

    If there is a lack of anonymity it would be quite understandable for people in a gay-hostile environment to subsequently try to claim they were joking if they have learned that they are at risk of being outed.

    On the other hand, If the study was entirely anonymous, how can the researchers otherwise know that those who are telling them they are actually straight had genuinely responded “gay” in the first place? How exactly did the students “tell” researchers? Perhaps more significantly, what prompted this mass urge to “fess up”?

    A classic case of “garbage in, garbage out”.

    1. The sexual orientation measures in Add Health are awful – they were developed in the early 1990s without any input from sexuality experts and it shows. They assume gay and straight teens are the same as far as dating, first sexual experience, romantic rituals, etc. Its basically only measures behavior and not identity in the first wave but added identity in the second and third waves, which makes it almost impossible to show changes in time.

  2. Colin (Queenstown/London) 5 Jan 2014, 6:54pm

    Is it not just human nature!

    When participating in surveys it depends on your mood, stress level, tiredness, time restraints etc. If you are more reflective or in the moment then you will answer softer questions differently.

    Considering all the stresses on youngsters today it does not surprise me nor do i think they are playing games. They are just young and attitudes and responses and how you feel about yourself and others changes much more than in adulthood. By then you have developed skills to deal with it and be more consistent.

    It would be interesting to have adults do the same questions say 20 year age gap.?…lol I know some weird adults.

  3. BlokeToys 5 Jan 2014, 7:29pm

    This worries me, because from the wording of the example given, it seems to suggest that those conducting this survey and sorting through the data are already biased in their opinions about sexuality, rejecting some things that have clearly been found in previous studies.

    If anything, it is MORE common for a teenager to have experienced same-sex attraction and activities while never coming to the conclusion that they are gay or bisexual.

    Several previous studies from the 1970’s on have all suggested that anywhere between 70 – 85% of young males have shared same-sex activities, and obviously they don’t all come out as bi or gay. For some it’s simply exploration, fetishistic in nature (usually masturbation), or indicative of diverse sexuality – but for a vast majority it’s the former.

    The people leading this study are going to be biased one way or another, but I’m surprised even they seem to be so ignorant when it comes to sexuality.

    1. I wouldn’t put much stock in any studies from the 70s or earlier since they were prior to the development of modern statistical methods. The samples can’t be used to generalize to wider populations. I seriously doubt 70-85% of dudes fooled around or maybe I just missed out on all the fun.

    2. PantoHorse 5 Jan 2014, 11:00pm

      Quite right. Research, whether qualitative, quantitative, investigative or journalistic, whatever, should definitely strive to be free of bias. Publishing biased or methodologically weak studies isn’t helpful.

  4. Erica Cook 5 Jan 2014, 8:44pm

    It could also be that these kids were forced through Ex-gay “Therapy”. That could explain the acting out, poor grades and other issues. They’re suffering from PTSD

  5. University of Arizona sociologist

    that says it all

    many LGB kids are still forced in the closet for life by the society!

  6. Astonishing. Seems like they should be much more worried about those who performed this research than about those who answered it. I believed the AIDS crises had tought us that there are quite a few men who have sex with men without identifying as even bisexual. I noticed in a previous research that there were a group of men that stated they only had had sex with men but still considered themselves straight (which I guess is rather tragic, though it seemed funny in the first place). This dualistic world should get used to the idea that there are many many who are more or less bisexual, whether they like it or not.

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