How would you gauge random undergrads' "EA potential"?

post by Jack R (JackRyan) · 2021-09-03T06:51:03.260Z · EA · GW · 4 comments

This is a question post.

Suppose you could ask a bunch of undergraduates one question to gauge something like their inclination to take significant action based on EA principles, AKA "EA potential." What question would you ask? The (possible) action relevance is EA university group strategy (eg which schools have the most total potential or most potential per student), though I'm not actually sure how important this information is (Stanford EA just happens to have the opportunity to survey many undergrads). We want the question to be able to distinguish potential "hardcore EAs" from potential "non-hardcore EAs" to the degree that's possible. Our current question is: "On a scale from 1-10, how much does maximizing positive impact guide your career thinking/planning? 1 = It's not a consideration, 10 = It's the sole deciding factor."

Answers

answer by BrianTan · 2021-09-03T10:15:12.960Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

I like your question of "On a scale from 1-10, how much does maximizing positive impact guide your career thinking/planning?"

However, 10 = "It's the sole deciding factor" is phrased in a way that's worryingly demanding. I think many EAs wouldn't see maximizing positive impact as the sole deciding factor in their career thinking/planning. Where the job is located and how much it pays could easily be other deciding factors.

Given this, I think some people who might become hardcore EAs would be wary of rating that question highly - they might just give a 5/10. 

So maybe you could phrase 10 differently, like "It's my main priority" or "It's one of my top factors", which are both slightly softer than "It's the sole deciding factor".

comment by Jack R (JackRyan) · 2021-09-05T00:11:04.365Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

What meaning of the phrase "hardcore EA" are you meaning to use here?

Replies from: BrianTan
comment by BrianTan · 2021-09-06T10:58:55.336Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

Highly engaged EAs, such as those who would rate themselves a level 4 or a 5 on the self-reported engagement question in the EA survey [EA · GW].

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comment by Adam Binks · 2021-09-03T07:07:43.901Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

One consideration with your current question - might it be more impactful to move people from a 5 to a 9 on that question, by informing them about the principles of EA, rather than taking someone who's already a 9 to start with? Of course there's still value in pointing the 9 towards good resources, but you might expect them to find those themselves if they already care so much.