Trust but verify: caution in the application of Internet-based research

R. Michelle Green


Are Internet-based research results sufficiently trustworthy? In 314 adults ages 18-82, systematic personality trait differences existed among broadband users, dial-up users and Internet non-users. Greater levels of openness and extraversion correlated with greater degrees of home Internet access in black subjects and in those over 40. No systematic differences were observed in white subjects and in those under 40. Internet sampling’s ease cannot free researchers from the obligation to identify anomalous results and to pursue diverse samples using diverse methods, particularly critical as United States populations become more diverse and long-lived.

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