February 23, 2010

How We Created the Quiz — and Computed Your Score

The Millenials

This is part of a Pew Research Center series of reports exploring the behaviors, values and opinions of the teens and twenty-somethings that make up the Millennial Generation

Our first step in creating this online quiz was to conduct a telephone survey in January, 2010 of a nationally representative sample of 2,020 adults. The survey consisted of more than 60 questions designed to help us identify the distinctive characteristics of Millennials, the generation of young adults (ages 18-29) who are coming of age in the new millennium.

After reviewing the results of that survey, we whittled the online version down to just 14 questions. These are the ones that, according to our statistical analysis, do the best job of predicting whether a respondent shares the same values, attitudes and behaviors of a typical Millennial. However, questions that are very dependent on one’s place in the life cycle (such as being unmarried or retired) were not included in the analysis.

The 14 questions don’t have equal importance. Some are very powerful predictors of being a typical Millennial (for example, having a social networking profile); others less so (for example, self-identifying as a liberal). After you took the quiz just now, each of your answers was weighted separately to produce your overall score.

Actually, it’s even more complicated than that. The impact of each question on your score depends on your answers to the other 13 questions. If you have a very low score, a “typical Millennial” response to a single question probably won’t raise it very much. Similarly, if you have a very high score, a “typical non-Millennial” response to a single question probably won’t lower it much. The impact of individual questions is usually strongest on scores in middle range.

Believe it or not, anyone taking this quiz can give 442,368 different combinations of answers to the 14 questions.1  When you completed the quiz, our software program took a look at your particular combination, did a few nano-seconds of math, and spit out the score that represents your predicted probability of resembling the typical Millennial. (More details about the statistics behind the quiz.)

And by the way, even though we asked you in the quiz to tell us your actual chronological age, that answer has nothing to do with your score. In theory, a 70-year-old has the same chance as a 20-year-old of getting a high score on this quiz.

Of course, it would help if the 70-year-old has a Facebook page, plays video games and sports a tattoo.


1To calculate the total number of combinations, we multiplied the number of possible responses to each question (i.e., 2*2*2*3*4*4*3*2*2*4*2*2*2*3).

Cite this publication: Tom Rosentiel. “How We Created the Quiz — and Computed Your Score.” Pew Research Center, Washington, D.C. (February 23, 2010) http://www.pewresearch.org/2010/02/23/how-we-created-the-quiz-and-computed-your-score/, accessed on July 22, 2014.