The 'Bradley effect' lesson in Research
Why I always take Consumer Research results with a pinch of salt is 'cos many a times they tell me about consumers who prefer to reveal nothing of how they actually consume, but more of what looks best in terms of their 'image' as consumers. For example, ask consumers if they are the bargaining type and you think they are gonna own up that, at the cost of looking miserly?
The Bradley effect best demonstrates this when it comes to voter research. The Bradley effect, is named after a black gubernatorial candidate for California in 1982 who was predicted in the exit polls to win by a double-digit margin, went on to lose it by 50,000 votes. The Bradley effect describes a problem with polling methodology rather than racism as such, since many respondents were clearly embarrassed to admit they had not voted for the black guy.
As Ann Coulter notes in her explanation on the Bradley effect, 'Named after Tom Bradley, who lost his election for California governor in 1982 despite a substantial lead in the polls, the Bradley effect says that black candidates will poll much stronger than the actual election results. First of all, if true, this is the opposite of racism: It is fear of being accused of racism. For most Americans, there is nothing more terrifying than the prospect of being called a racist. It's scarier than flood or famine, terrorist attacks or flesh-eating bacteria. To some, it's even scarier than "food insecurity." Political correctness has taught people to lie to pollsters rather than be forced to explain why they're not voting for the African-American.'
Its good to note that the fear of a 'lousy consumer image' is what researchers must be most careful about.