The Associated Press and MTV partnered to conduct a groundbreaking study into what makes young people happy and how they see their happiness in the future.  This project included an extensive national survey of Americans age 13 to 24 conducted by Knowledge Networks of Menlo Park, Calif., under the direction and supervision of AP’s polling unit.


            The survey was conducted online with a sample drawn from a panel of respondents Knowledge Networks recruited via random sampling of landline telephone households with listed and unlisted numbers. The company provides Web access to panel recruits who don’t already have it. With a probability basis and coverage of people who otherwise couldn’t access the Internet, the Knowledge Networks online surveys are nationally representative.


            In all, 1,280 young people were interviewed – 618 respondents ages 13 to 17 and 662 ages 18 to 24 – from April 16 to April 23, 2007. Knowledge Networks obtained parental consent to interview respondents under age 18.


            Respondents completed a survey with 101 questions, many of them multi-part. Past research indicates that on sensitive measures, people may be less prone to give “socially desirable” answers in online surveys than those with live interviewers. The AP-MTV survey also included several open-ended questions, in which respondents put answers in their own words. Median survey completion time was about 25 minutes. 


Results were weighted to represent the population of 13- to 24-year-olds by demographic factors such as age, sex, region, and education.


            No more than one time in 20 should chance variations in the sample cause results to vary more than plus or minus 2.7 percentage points from the answers that would have been obtained if all 13- to 24-year olds in the U.S. were surveyed.  The sampling error margin is plus or minus 3.9 percentage points for the sub-sample of 13- to 17-year-olds, 3.8 percentage points for 18- to 24-year-olds.


            There are other, potentially greater, sources of variability in surveys, including the wording and order of the questions.