Mary Guiden at Physorg: “Conservation scientists and statisticians at Colorado State University have teamed up to solve a key problem for the study of sensitive behaviors like poaching, harassment, bribery, and drug use.
Sensitive behaviors—defined as socially unacceptable or not compliant with rules and regulations—are notoriously hard to study, researchers say, because people often do not want to answer direct questions about them.
To overcome this challenge, scientists have developed indirect questioning approaches that protect responders’ identities. However, these methods also make it difficult to predict which sectors of a population are more likely to participate in sensitive behaviors, and which factors, such as knowledge of laws, education, or income, influence the probability that an individual will engage in a sensitive behavior.
Assistant Professor Jennifer Solomon and Associate Professor Michael Gavin of the Department of Human Dimensions of Natural Resources at CSU, and Abu Conteh from MacEwan University in Alberta, Canada, have teamed up with Professor Jay Breidt and doctoral student Meng Cao in the CSU Department of Statistics to develop a new method to solve the problem.
The study, “Understanding the drivers of sensitive behavior using Poisson regression from quantitative randomized response technique data,” was published recently in PLOS One.
Conteh, who, as a doctoral student, worked with Gavin in New Zealand, used a specific technique, known as quantitative randomized response, to elicit confidential answers to questions on behaviors related to non-compliance with natural resource regulations from a protected area in Sierra Leone.
In this technique, the researcher conducting interviews has a large container containing
Armed with the new computer program, the scientists found that people from rural communities with less access to jobs in urban centers were more likely to hunt in the reserve. People in communities with a greater
The researchers said that collaborating across disciplines was and is key to addressing complex problems like this one. It is commonplace for people to be noncompliant with rules and regulations and equally important for social scientists to analyze these behaviors