Do People Think That People With PhDs Make More Money?
To find out, if people think that people with PhDs make more money?
We asked three questions to strangers. And we gave no information about ourselves beforehand. We also did our best to have a completely neutral tone when asking the questions and have no reaction to their answers because we didn’t want to influence the results.
The first question was, “How much money do you think I make per year?”
After the person answered that question, we then asked, “If I were to have a PhD, which I do, how much money do you think I make now?”
Once the person answered this question, we asked one final question to learn more about each person. That question was, “What is your highest level of education you’ve attempted?”
This last question we felt was important because it helped us understand how familiar they were with PhDs and hence how good of an idea they would have about the difference in earnings between someone with a PhD and someone without a PhD.
After many rejections, we finally got a total of 10 people to respond, and these are the results:
The table below and figure 1 show the raw data.
There were two general categories of responses.
The first category was responses that reflected fairly average incomes. The second category was for incomes well above average, in the hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.
One major trend stands out – those who estimated well above average incomes without knowing we had PhDs then rated us as having far lower incomes when they found out that we did have PhDs.
On the other hand, when people thought that we earned fairly average incomes (the first category), this drop wasn’t prevalent, with all respondents saying that we either earned the same or more if we had a PhD.
Processing the data a little further, figure 2 shows the percentage change between estimates if we didn’t have PhDs and if we did have PhDs.
For the first category, where people estimated fairly average wages to begin with, the percentage changes when they found out that we did have PhDs ranged from 0% to +100%, with the average being 37.1%.
For the second category, where people estimated a massive drop after finding out that we had PhDs, the percentage changes ranged from -29.4% to -68%, with the average being -51.4%!
But what about people’s familiarity with PhDs? If you are familiar with PhDs, how does that affect your estimates?
Figures 3 and 4 show those results, with figure 3 showing the percentage changes for those respondents who didn’t have any first hand experience with PhDs, and figure 4 shows the percentage changes for those respondents who did have first hand experience with PhDs.
The results show that, from this sample space, having first hand experience with PhDs made little difference to the estimates with positive and negative values found in each group.
In conclusion, from this sample space, if someone thinks you make an average wage, informing them that you have a PhD will bump you up a little. On the other hand, if someone thinks you earn a lot already, informing them that you have a PhD bursts your bubble.
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