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Showing posts from February, 2016

What is a "response propensity"?

We talk a lot about response propensities. I'm starting to think we actually create a lot of confusion for ourselves by the way we sometimes have these discussions. First, there is a distinction between an actual and an estimated propensity. This distinction is important as our models are almost always misspecified. It is probably the case that important predictors are never observed -- for example, the mental state of the sampled person at the moment that we happen to contact them. So that the estimated propensity and true propensity are different things.

The model selection choices we make can, therefore, have something of an arbitrary flavor to them. I think the choices we make should depend on the purpose of the model. We examined in a recent paper on nonresponse weighting whether call record information, especially the number of calls and refusal indicators, were useful predictors of response propensities for this purpose. It turns out that these variables were strong predict…

Survey Data and Big Data

I had an opportunity to revisit an article by Burns and colleagues that looks at using data from smartphones (they have a nice appendix of all the data they can get from each phone) to predict things that might trigger episodes of depression. Of course, the data don't contain any specific measures of depression. In order to get those, the researchers had to.... surveys. Once they had those, then they could find the associations with the censor data from the phone. Then they could deliver interventions through the phone.

There are 38 sensors on the phone. The phone delivers data quite frequently. So even a small number of phones (n=8 in this trial) there was quite a large amount of data generated. A bigger trial would have even more data. So this seems like a big data application.

And, in this case the "organic" data from the phone need some "designed" (i.e. survey) data in order to be useful.

This is also interesting in that the smartphone is delivering an inte…