The University of Sheffield
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A discrete choice experiment to validate the use of areal wombling for detecting social boundaries

posted on 2024-05-16, 09:36 authored by Meng Le Zhang, Aneta PiekutAneta Piekut, Zanib Rasool, Lydia Warden, Henry StaplesHenry Staples, Gwilym PryceGwilym Pryce

Data, code and materials from a discrete experiment to test the validity of an Bayesian areal wombling algorithm for predicting social boundaries. The experiment was conducted as a part of project ‘Life at the Frontier: Researching the Impact of Social Frontiers on the Social Mobility and Integration of Migrants’ (2020-2023; NordForsk/ESRC, project no 95193), and experiment data was collected in Rotherham (UK).

About the experiment

Each border on a map is assigned a boundary value based on how dissimilar the adjacent neighbourhoods are (higher = more dissimilar = more likely to be a social boundary).

The experiment was carried out as follows:

- We created three maps of the same area with different boundaries using the Bayesian areal wombling approach.

- Map A contained the boundaries with the highest boundary values, whilst map C had the lowest boundary values. Map B contained boundaries that were in between.

- During an interview, participants were then shown pairs of maps and asked which map in each pair best corresponds to local community boundaries.

- The sequence and order of the maps shown were randomised.

- Assuming that residents and experts can recognise (but not necessarily recall) social boundaries, we conjecture that participants would choose the map containing borders with higher boundary values.

Hypothesis: We hypothesise that participants will agree with the predictions of the areal wombling algorithm and choose boundaries with higher boundary values.

Null hypothesis: Participants are not more or less likely to choose boundaries with higher boundary values.

Aside from testing a hypothesis, another motivation behind the study is to explore the feasibility of the method for future replications and follow-up research.

More information

This study was approved by the University of Sheffield ethics committee (application number 042378).

Please read the README file for a more detailed description of the content of this repository.


Life at the Frontier: The Impact of Social Frontiers on the Social Mobility and Integration of Migrants


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