The story behind the survey.


I had to do a survey for my research class. Iíve been doing research on cosplayers since January, and was required to do a survey as part of it. Surveys are good because you can take what you learn from one group, and then apply that to a bunch of other people and see how it compares.

I first handed my survey out to a classroom full of Japanese students, thinking that they would at least know about things like anime and cosplay, and be a good control group for my research. They filled out their surveys pretty much as I expected without having to ask any questions. Well, except for that one guy.. who asked me what Ďsympathizeí meant, and asked if ĎRole playing in the bedroomí counted as role playing. Ummmmm... But anyway, once I got all those results, I determined that my survey was working and handed it out to my next group - everyone I know online.

Within ten minutes, Iíd gotten back quite a few results which were crazy! There were a lot of misinterpreted questions and strange, untruthful answers! I had to really quickly rewrite my survey so that Iíd be able to get the answers I needed.

The amusement I got out of the surveys is mostly from this group of people. I call you guys in-betweeners. People who accept cosplaying in their lives, but arenít as enthusiastically interested in it.

Finally, I gave my survey to my researched cosplaying group. I knew the survey had completed its goal when two of my cosplayers said, ďThis is totally geared toward us!Ē That was something my teacher had said... That the people from the researched group should feel as if the survey is written in their own personal language. Itís a key to proving that cosplayers are their own distinct subculture. Yatta! I win!

But research aside for a moment.. Iím going to share the really funny parts of this survey experience. Responses have been paraphrased and made anonymous, so no one should be offended, but if you are, then let me know and Iíll cut something out. Itís rather unprofessional for me to be talking about things this way at all, but eh.. Itís not like Iím a real anthropologist or anything.

I guess Iíll start out by just listing funny things as they came up.

Many people, when they realize they answered a question wrong, instead of going back and fixing it, they write that they answered it wrong and put the real answer in wherever they happened to notice it. Just amusing.

I like it when people have to explain to me all the subtleties of my question. I wrote the question! It took two hours to perfect my survey, and several revisions so that each question would get me the answer I exactly needed. And so it's really funny that people don't trust me, they have to go on for a bit to explain my question to me before giving my answer. But hey it's cool, just amusing.

And then there's the people who when I say, "Have you cosplayed? (yes/no)" decide to give me their whole life story about all the things they've cosplayed and every con they've been to. It's neat that some people would tell a complete stranger all kinds of stuff like that. It makes reading through these surveys really entertaining. If anyone wants to rant about cosplay, feel free to email me more.

To the question : Do you consider yourself an artist. Mostly I just wanted to know if people who sew think they're artists or not. But I happened to send this to a lot of comic artists. Some comic artists say, "Well of course I'm an artist!" And some put "No, I don't consider myself one."

Some people thought the whole survey was about anime and had to carefully explain that "No I'm not an anime fan. No I don't don't write fiction about anime, just other movies. No I don't go to anime cons, just scifi cons." Hey the word 'anime' wasn't in every question! Did it seem like it was?

I think I upset some people by talking to them about how amused I am by the survey results.. My friend explained this to me.. she says that the questions were biased and loaded.

Biased and loaded? Jeez, I'm not asking you for your sexual orientation, I'm just asking if you're a cosplayer or not! It's not that strenuous is it? Sorry if anyone thought I was being mean to them by asking questions! It seemed like a lot of people took everything very personally and lashed out against the questions. I got a lot of responses that sounded a lot like:
Q: Do you watch anime at all?
A: No how dare you think I'm an anime fan!
Nooo.. I didn't say you were, it was just one of the questions I had on the survey!!!

The majority of the people I sent this to got so very, VERY defensive about almost every single question. I had everything from refusals to answers, to mutiple paragraphed explanations of every begrudingly admitted answer. I sorta feel like you guys don't trust me to take you objectively.. For most survey-takers, I know you, I know who you are, I'm not gonna change what I think about you because of some answer to a survey. And I'm not gonna go around posting these on the internet or gossiping on who said what. Donítcha trust me??

I think everyone is just paranoid of labels.

For me, I don't think I care too much about labels. I'm not too picky about what people think of me, so long as they don't hate me or stalk me. But I guess most people really do care.
Which is why I had to send out two versions of the survey.. Because the results I got back from the first one were..... Oh it was so funny!
People I know watch anime regularly were answering NO to that question.
People were saying things like: I hate comics but I love manga. Contradiction!!
Or like.. "I'm not a fan and none of my friends are"... When the respondent is my friend! And I'm totally a fan! Does that mean you're not my friend?

For the question: Do you find that you are unable to relate to the average person of the same gender?
I got a few response like this: Not true, I relate well to everyone I meet in this very select group of acquaintances whom I personally know.
What the..? I said "average person"!

And this was the best. My friend cosplays, loves doing so, and does on a regular basis. But puts 'No' to "Are you a cosplayer?" I ask her why and my friend answers, "Because I don't get along with the cosplaying fandom."
AAH! The question was "are you a cosplayer!" Not "Do you get along with cosplayers."
Oh my god you guys are all crazy!
I'm a cosplayer!
Sorry to let everyone know..
Guess I'm letting some of you down...
But I cosplay, I'm a fan, and my art is a derivative of Japanese anime style. *dodges thrown rocks*

Here's something I found pretty amusing.
On the original survey I had the question: Do you watch anime?
The reason I ask is because some of the people I gave this survey to had never seen a show in their life, and I needed to differentiate the ignorant from the people who were likely to understand what I was talking about.
But I got back the most defensive answers to this seemingly simple question!!
"Yes, but only once in a while!!"
"Yes, but only a few shows I really like!"
"Yes, but I'm definitely not an anime fan, okay?"
"Yes, but not in the past year!!!"
"Yes, but only because I need something to do in my free time."
"Yes, but I read books and watch live action movies a whole lot more!"
Is it not okay to just say yes?
So I changed the question. I put:
"Do you watch anime at all?"
And guess what!
I got the same exact answers!!
You people are all crazy.
Crazy crazy cyborgs.

Some people seemed very vehemently opposed to anything Japanese, although they say they watch and enjoy anime.

When the survey finally made it around to people who are anime fans who cosplay, the answers ended up being not so contradictory or defensive, so don't think everyone responded this way. Just a lot of people.

One last thing. The question "Do you remember an author's name more or less than a character's name?"
About half of the people answered 'yes' or 'no'. More than a half. Like two thirds of everyone.
Yes or No to which option??
Surveys are so hilarious! You should try giving some out, too!
Now, go read my analysis of the questions.. Also amusing.

Funny story about survey results
Survey Question Analysis
Survey Results
My final paper
Cosplaying Schemas
The ability to Relate to Characters
Zip file of presentation
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