Casual Fridays: Revisiting "who says hi"?

For the first-ever Casual Fridays study nearly four years ago, we asked readers who said "hi" to them while they were out for a walk or run:

Today's entry is a survey designed to test a hypothesis I've been developing during my daily run. I think I've noticed a pattern in the responses of people I see while I'm running, and I want to find out whether it's a local quirk in the way people react to me, or if it's a universal phenomemon. The question centers around who says "hi" to you while you engage in your regular outdoor fitness activity. If you've never thought about this before, you might want to go out for a run/skate/bike ride before you respond.

Although we got some interesting results, with only 213 respondents, we weren't able to examine some key details, such as whether men or women say "hi" more often. And there are also a couple other interesting avenues to explore. So this week we're offering a new, improved version of the study:

Click here to participate

As usual, the study is brief, with just 10 questions. It should take only a few minutes to complete. You have until Thursday, October 15 to complete your response. There is no limit on the number of respondents. Don't forget to come back next week for the results!

(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)

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I had two difficulties with this.

The first is that I'm not sure if the questionnaire meant 'hi' to include other verbal greetings (how about someone who nods rather than verbalizing 'hi'?)

The second is that I'm somewhat faceblind, which means that I don't know if the people I meet are strangers or not. That's why I say hi to dogwalkers more often then to other people, because I can tell that they are neighbors.

My outdoor fitness activity is rugby. People I know say hi. The opponents just say "ow" a lot. Sometimes they punch me, but I guess that isn't the kind of greeting you're interested in... :)

For the question about the likelihood of a car honking at a pedestrian to say "hi," I answered that this was likely. But, in my experience the honking car is usually trying to express a sentiment more along the lines of "hey baby." I don't think that they're the same thing, but this wasn't really addressed by the survey.

I counted nods as "hi"s. I had some trouble deciding if the DC area was "Northeast" or not - it's not Southeast, though, so I decided it was.

My prefered outdoor fitness activity is open water swimming - everyone says hi to someone swimming by their boat, and the triathletes as where our wetsuits are :)

Wrong environment, so I answered for my running days.

I have a few issues with the survey. For a start, I wince at the phrase "outdoor fitness activity". It implies that fitness is the purpose of these activities, which may often be true for vigorous activities such as running, but not so much for a casual walk. Fitness is at best a side-effect.

I think q4 should have come before q2-3. When I first read q2, it seemed to generalise too much. How can I say whether a walker says hi to me? Does it mean that most walkers say hi to me? Does it mean that at least one walker per walk typically says hi to me? Further down, I discover that the issue of frequency is covered by q4, but it would have saved me some trouble to know this when I was at q2.

I also agree with Ann's comment - is "saying hi" a euphemism for all greetings, verbal or otherwise? I'll assume that it is - that a nod and a smile counts as a hi. Grounds for this can be found in q4, where it is assumed that the honk of a car can mean hi, though I'm not so sure on that one. Cars occasionally honk at pedestrians, but does the honker think of it as a greeting, or is the sentiment typically more analagous to jumping out from behind a wall and shouting "Boo!"? I suspect the latter.

Incidentally, I've lived in both rural and suburban environments, and can say confidently that car drivers waving to other cars and to pedestrians is pretty much universal in rural parts, and pretty much unknown in suburban (or else they'd never be stopping).

The survey only asks which gender more often says hi to us, and not the other way around. But I wonder how many men, for example, would admit (if asked) that they are more likely to say hi to a woman than to another man. Or not, as the case may be.

I think it would have been useful to distinguish between umprompted greetings and response greetings. Take q5, for example. If (as I suggested above) I'm more likely to nod and smile at a woman than at another man, then it follows that the greetings I receive are also more likely to be from women, just because some proportion of greetings will be responses to my own. But perhaps your intent with asking this question is better captured by ignoring this factor and counting only unprompted greetings. It's impossible to know unless you say so explicitely.

I live in a big city in the UK, so nobody talks to each other... That said, depending on what I wear when I go out, I get a fair bit of attention from other people - but I guess being wolf whistled at by a builder or honked at by a man in a van is not exactly the same as someone saying hi to me.

By teenage dreams (not verified) on 10 Oct 2009 #permalink

one thing that the survey didn't address is frequency that someone will say hi back, i ride (bicycles) upwards of 20hrs a week during the summer and I'll wave hi to other riders and it's maybe a 50/50 ROI.