Posted by: psilva | April 17, 2013

Most of the Time We Get it Wrong


A colleague relayed this story:

At a recent toastmasters meeting, they did a survey.

They were asked what does each of the following words mean, when represented as a percentage?

  • Sometimes
  • Frequently
  • Rarely
  • Often
  • Usually

For example, my friend interpreted “Frequently” to mean “about 60% of the time”….more than half for sure.  I agreed.

We thought that we “knew” how these were interpreted by other people, but when they reviewed the survey, they found that people interpreted these words in such different ways as to make them all interchangeably meaningless.  The percentages are the range of what people ‘thought’ were the accurate occurrences.

Survey Word

(Equals)

Sometimes

10-60%

Frequently

30-95%

Rarely

1-10%

Often

50-90%

Usually

50-98%

Only “Rarely” seems to have a common understanding. ‘Frequently‘ had such a giant range as to be completely useless, with some people thinking that it mean less than half the time and others feeling that it was a near certainty. 

With that in mind, from now on I will frequently write stories that are rarely covered often in the media and it will usually involve some stats that I’ll sometimes understand. 

Perfect.

ps

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