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538 does survey to test steak cooking preferences

 
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    Posted: May 20 2014 at 1:07pm

Are risk-averse people more likely to order their steak well done?

I have no idea; I tried to find out and got absolutely nowhere. But — reinforcing our commitment to full disclosure (and my personal quest to never miss an opportunity to discuss the superiority of rare steaks) — here’s the story.

DataLab has been playing around with SurveyMonkey Audience polls. It’s always nice to have fresh data to work with, and there’s a sense of satisfaction in running actual experiments, particularly when it comes to settling frivolous arguments I have about the definition of the Midwest or the moral superiority of the Girl Scouts of America.

I prefer steak cooked so that it could very well recover from its wounds with proper bed rest. And I look back at the time in my life when I ordered steaks medium-rare, in my mid-teens, and realize I lacked a sense of commitment. So, why do people order their steaks incinerated?

It stands to reason, from this side of medium, that one reason people prefer tougher, less juicy steaks is the threat of food-borne illness. Everyone has a different threshold for risk, whether they jump out of airplanes or exceed the speed limit. So, on May 7 and 8, we ran a survey testing how 550 people interpret and evaluate risk — do they speed in traffic, smoke, go skydiving, prefer a riskier lottery? — and then asked them how they prefer their steak, if at all.

After getting the data back, I was excited to see the results. I checked the crosstabs, which are usually a simple place to start. There was nothing. I ran regressions to try to tease out any relationship between risk-taking behavior and steak rareness. Nada. Then I checked to see whether gender, age or income had any effect. The relationships were so statistically insignificant, it’s laughable. At least in this small survey, there does not appear to be any relationship between people’s risk thresholds and how they like their steak cooked.

Here’s one example. We asked respondents, “Consider the following hypothetical situations: In Lottery A, you have a 50 percent chance of success, with a payout of $100. In Lottery B, you have a 90 percent chance of success, with a payout of $20. Assuming you have $10 to bet, would you play Lottery A or Lottery B?”

I thought that maybe people who picked “Lottery A,” the riskier lottery, would be more likely to prefer their steak rare. Not so much.

Still, if there’s anything to be gained from this futility, it’s this chart indicating how respondents preferred their steak. The vast majority — 69 percent — like it somewhere in the ballpark of medium, with about twice as many people preferring medium-rare to medium-well.

Anyone have a solid hypothesis for why some people like their steaks scorched and desiccated (besides, you know, taste)? I’m out of ideas. Let me know in the comments.



Edited by Random Thoughts - May 20 2014 at 1:09pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote SamoneLenior Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 20 2014 at 1:17pm

this is when you question the sample people
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote melikey Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 20 2014 at 1:17pm
I'm not a risk taker but I like medium. I think it's cause I'm a nerd and more concerned about the outside being properly cooked than the inside. So it may seem like a risk but it's carefully calculated.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ming Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 20 2014 at 1:20pm
Nah

medium well or well, usually well. people have different definitions of it. ive been lucky tho
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote femmefatale85 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 20 2014 at 1:22pm
i've never ordered a steak but every guy ive dated gets medium-well
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote MsBMW Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 20 2014 at 1:28pm
I take mine Medium for tenderness. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Random Thoughts Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 20 2014 at 1:35pm
Anything above medium.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote coconess Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 20 2014 at 1:55pm
team medium rare
Cool
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote JoliePoufiasse Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 20 2014 at 2:15pm
I was team well done until a few years ago when I decided to live a little. Team medium now.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote jonesable Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 20 2014 at 2:16pm
Medium rare.
I thought I hated rare but the last couple times I've enjoyed it.
It depends on the type of cut.


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