CQ17: Unlocking Customer Inspired Growth. Find out more.

The Jersey Shore: A sampling problem?

So, this is as much as I know… MTV has a new hit show about some twenty-something supposedly Italian-Americans living together on the Jersey Shore. I know this much because my friend and colleague, Katie Adams, likes to fill me in on the show’s highlights. Katie is fabulous and hilarious; she makes the show sound like the television equivalent of Fluffernutter—sugary and satisfying because it has absolutely no nutritional value.

That’s why I was so surprised when a Facebook “friend” posted the following [unedited] update on his page: “just watched 10 minutest of “jersey shore” on mtv.com and thanks god i’m not italian-american or anyone on that show.”

I was angry. I’m proud of my Italian heritage and have even been to the town in Sicily where my family is from. More importantly, however, is that fact that I (and a few other Italian-Americans) went to high school with this person. He knows us; he knows our families.

What I did next might surprise you. I printed out his update, cut it out, and posted it on my desk. For me, his comment was less about whether or not television creates and/or nurtures stereotypes, and was more a strong reminder to avoid easy and/or rash conclusions. His offensive remark became a love note of sorts for smart research and intelligent analyses from good samples.

Much has been written about the potential social implications of “The Jersey Shore.” I don’t pretend to know why people are drawn to depictions of outrageous subgroups, but I do know that dubious conclusions based on a skewed sample can do great harm and can often reveal hidden, unfair, unsupportable, and often unconscious attitudes.

And it can seriously tick off your former high school classmates.

Hello...it's me

Why more human companies outperform the market
CQ17: Download the full report

You have Successfully Subscribed!