Be Aware of Selection Bias

Be Aware of Selection Bias

I wrote recently about the mistaken perception of older members not being tech savvy. (You can read that here.)

One of my astute readers, Will Slade at Protech, pointed out the following (I'm paraphrasing): "It's possible that the reason many associations perceive older members to be not tech savvy is that the older members will complain while the younger members will just walk away."

This is an important point! Which leads us to selection bias.

Selection bias occurs when we don't have a truly "random" selection of data points under consideration. In the case above, only the older people are complaining and so the assumption is "Our older members are having more trouble." This may or may not be true, but because they're the only ones we're hearing from, we're drawing conclusions based on incomplete data.

I believe associations (and ALL humans) make this mistake quite frequently. Between selection bias and recency bias, too often we're making decisions about design, programs, pricing, and more, based on faulty or incomplete data.

So be careful about how you're using the data you have on hand to make decisions. If the data is incomplete or poorly collected, it may steer you in the wrong direction!

Wes's Wednesday Wisdom Archives

Always ask “Why?”

January 13, 2021

Always ask “Why?” Little kids ask “Why?” all the time, because they are sponges for …

Always ask “Why?” Read More »

Averages hide the extremes

January 6, 2021

Averages hide the extremes I can’t remember where I first heard it, but “averages hide …

Averages hide the extremes Read More »

Look up PARTIAL names!

December 24, 2020

Look up PARTIAL names! Train your staff to do look ups on partial names, not full …

Look up PARTIAL names! Read More »

Not Just Technology

December 16, 2020

Not Just Technology There was recently a discussion on the ASAE online community about project management …

Not Just Technology Read More »

Consider quitting

December 4, 2020

Consider quitting Patient: “Doctor, it hurts when I do this.” Doctor: “Then stop doing that.” …

Consider quitting Read More »

There is nothing so permanent as business rules

November 25, 2020

There is nothing so permanent as business rules Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman said, “There’s nothing …

There is nothing so permanent as business rules Read More »

Budget for feature discovery and adoption

November 18, 2020

Budget for feature discovery and adoption When developing a budget for implementation of a new …

Budget for feature discovery and adoption Read More »

Customize staff pages for better user adoption

November 11, 2020

Customize staff pages for better user adoption The single most important element to data management …

Customize staff pages for better user adoption Read More »

Don’t ask questions for which you already know the answer

November 4, 2020

Don’t ask questions for which you already know the answer I was recently completing an …

Don’t ask questions for which you already know the answer Read More »

All decisions involve risk

October 28, 2020

All decisions involve risk Whether it’s choosing a new AMS or introducing a new product …

All decisions involve risk Read More »

Scroll to Top