Child Not Answering Call is Dead or Dying, Parents Think

Update: the tiny pink slice shouldn’t be there
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Researchers at Harvard University announced on Tuesday that the results of their study of the reaction of parents to their children’s not answering their phone, published in January in Journal of Family Psychology, were partially wrong, and parents actually never think that their child didn’t pick up the phone because of not hearing it or because the battery was dead.

According to the study, when their child didn’t answer their call, parents attributed this to the child’s dying 50% of the time, to the child’s being dead 49.5% of the time, and to the child’s not hearing the phone or the phone’s battery having run out 0.5% of the time, as shown in the chart. Reanalysis of raw data showed the latter 0.5% to be the result of an error in calculations and therefore does not represent actual parental reactions.

“That 0.5% alarmed us a bit because it was too high a percentage for a reasonable parental reaction,” said Christian Belzo, the lead author of the study. “So we went back to our numbers and redid the calculations and—phew!—it turned out that that tiny slice of the pie chart shouldn’t have been there at all. It was the result of a small math error in the beginning that propagated through further calculations and snowballed into a whopping 0.5%.”

Belzo said his group’s next study will focus on whether people ever attribute their friends’ not answering their calls or texts to anything other than the said friends’ hating their guts.

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