Almost three years ago, we conducted our first-ever Casual Fridays study, where we asked who says “hi” to you while you’re outside exercising. The results confirmed my suspicions:
Runners report that they say “hi” to walkers 57.1 percent of the time. But looking back at the other graph, walkers claim runners only say “hi” only 31 percent of the time. That’s a massive difference — a statistically significant one. A similar — and also significant — disparity holds for bikers and walkers.
But there were some unanswered questions back then. Are the people who answered our survey just friendlier than average? It’s possible that they were telling the truth about how often they say “hi” and that others aren’t so friendly.
This time around, we have a larger sample (415 responses), and we’ve asked a few additional questions that may help us determine if our respondents self-selected, or if we really do just misrepresent how often we say “hi.” Clearly there is some self-selection going on, because we had many fewer responses than we normally get. I’m guessing this is because a lot of our readers simply don’t go outside to do their exercise. Let’s see if we can confirm that with a quick poll:
Now, let’s take a look at the results of the new study. As before, respondents indeed report saying “hi” more often than people say “hi” to them:
But three years ago we also found that runners and bikers say they say “hi” to walkers much more frequently than walkers acknowledge. This year we found the same pattern:
As you can see, walkers say bikers and runners say “hi” less than 25 percent of the time, but runners and bikers say they say “hi” to walkers over 40 percent of the time — once again, a significant difference.
Can this be explained by the “friendliness” of our respondents? Runners and bikers actually say that walkers say “hi” to them much more than the walkers in our study say they do. For this to be the case, the walkers who responded to our study would need to be much friendlier than average, and the bikers and runners would need to be much less friendly than average.
I came up with two different ways to measure “friendliness.” One is a composite of how many different people you say that you say “hi” to — if you say “hi” to just walkers, you’d get a 1 on this scale, but if you say “hi” to walkers, bikers, and pet-walkers, then you’d get a 3. The other is a composite of answers to three questions: whether you join a friend when you exercise, whether you stop to talk to folks along your route, and whether you ask more questions than you answer in a conversation over lunch. This graph shows the results:
The “friendliness” score combines all these measures, while the “No ‘Hi'” score ignores when people say they say “hi.” In both tests, there’s no significant difference in friendliness among runners, bikers, or walkers. So this suggests that people really do overestimate how often they say “hi”, or they underestimate how often others say hi to them.
Some other interesting results from this week’s study:
Here the results are broken down by region. People in Europe say “hi” significantly less often than in the US or Canada (there weren’t enough responses from Asia or Australia/Oceania for those differences to be significant).
Finally, as you might expect, people are less likely to say “hi” in urban versus suburban/rural areas:
(Just a reminder: All Casual Fridays studies are non-scientific. This doesn’t mean we can’t use scientific principles to assess what’s going on, but we can’t make general claims based on the results)