As someone who has worked in the field now for 25 years, with a degree in Survey Methodology, and about 18 years of running a social science survey research business, I have a fairly good understanding of the field overall, and felt I could collect some thoughts of my own on this technology in relation to the field of social science survey research. However, I wondered how effective ChatGPT itself could be in telling the story about its impact on the field of social science survey research.
So I asked ChatGPT a series of questions, and what resulted was this fairly balanced and sometimes surprising essay about AI and social science survey research. I have included the final essay below.
The essay resulted from approximately one hour of back-and-forth “chat” between myself and the ChatGPT interface in early January 2023.
I began with a request for an outline for such an essay, then through a series of prompts to guide its focus refined the outline and eventually filled in the text. Along the way, as its editor, I identified and informed ChatGPT of its errors, which it always corrected. In a few places, I asked ChatGPT to provide references to support statements made. We wrapped up our collaboration with my request for it to write an introduction and conclusion to tie it all together.
Once the essay was written, we revisited each section separately, and I asked it to revise each section if needed so that it is readable by someone with a 10th-grade reading level.
Through the process, I served as the inquisitor, asking the questions that I wanted to be answered in the essay. I also served as a low-pressure copy editor—mostly refining words and phrasing, removing repetitive text, and reconstructing some sentences for clarity. I tried to minimize the impact I had on the substantive content of the essay.
And for fun, I asked for a special “alternative ending” that I thought would make a few readers smile…