Study finds teenagers trolling LGBT teen health studies
Gathering data is already hard enough when you’re trying to do LGBT teen health studies and your subjects are afraid to open up. But what if there are some teens that are trolling your research?
In a report by The Daily Beast, a study found a large group of teens who supposedly self-identify as gay or lesbians in surveys and then give exaggerated responses to other questions.
This becomes a problem as these trolling teens could be inflating estimated health disparities between LGBT teens and their peers.
The teens trolling LGBT teen health studies
NYU economics professor Joseph R. Cimpian, whose new study was published in the American Journal of Public Health, discovered the potential scale of this problem when supposedly gay kids in a survey reported being blind.
“What we found is that ‘gay’ kids are way more likely to be blind and to be deaf and to have three or more children of their own and all sorts of things,” Cimpian told The Daily Beast.
“When you look at these data, you think, ‘This is ridiculous!’,” he said, which led him to conclude that: “Clearly the kids are messing with us.”
That’s why Cimpian and his team conducted a study by looking at data from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey.
The study used a sophisticated statistical analysis on this survey, which was conducted to high schoolers who were asked about sexual orientation.
Their result? They found many of these “mischievous responders” in the data set.
Outlandish answers in LGBT teen health studies
The analysis tried to take out youth who identified as “gay” but also said they were unnaturally tall and ate carrots four or more times a day every day.
Cimpian said: “We do know that we can get very different responses particularly for high-risk, low-frequency kind of outcomes. Things like excessive drug use and excessive alcohol use.”
“That’s a pretty tempting response option, we find, for the mischievous responders,” he added.
By removing the “mischievous responders,” the team found this had “a significant impact” on “overall estimates of LGBQ-heterosexual youth disparities, especially among male youths.” though only in certain areas.
“Drug- and alcohol-use disparities were among those most affected by suspect data, whereas disparity estimates for being bullied, feeling sad or hopeless, and thinking about suicide were not noticeably affected by suspect cases,” was the study’s discovery.
What does this mean LGBT teen health studies
In other words, these teens think that it’s funny to say they use heroin over 40 times, but not to admit thinking about suicide.
This affects surveys in making it seem like gay and bisexual boys are into substance at a higher rate.
“I think that [my study] suggests that the disparities are, particularly among males, not as big as the literature previously would have suggested,” Cimpian said.
“And some of those disparities actually diminish to basically nothing. They’re definitely not statistically significant in many cases—but, not only that, the actual differences are virtually nothing,” he said.
However, what’s interesting is that “mischievous responders” were more prevalent with boys as compared to girls.
“Mischievous responders are kind of difficult to study. When you try to study something, you actually alter it by measuring it, so if somebody knows that they’re going to be discovered as a mischievous responder, they may not actually reveal their mischievous responding tendencies,” he pointed out.