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Why are Brownies so Compelling?

We recently conducted a short survey about brownie preferences and figured it would be a funny distraction before Thanksgiving day. But if it were just a cute story, you’d be reading about this on On The Fly.

No, with this simple survey, we learned volumes about the differences between men and women and what makes an effective survey.

This brownie interest started during Julian’s birthday, when Melissa brought out homemade brownies. While slicing them up, we discovered that three of the four men on our staff wanted corners (the 4th wanted a single edge brownie) while some of the women wanted just the opposite—gooey centers. This raised an important question that begged to be an online survey!

We asked: do you prefer your brownies with edges (from the side or corner) or without (from the center).

We were hoping we’d get some interesting results that backed up our thinking, and here’s what we found:

93 people answered: 40 Male, 53 Female

Just looking at the raw preferences, 48.39% prefered a brownie from the center, 36.56% prefered a brownie from the corner, and 15.05% prefered a brownie from the side.

But here are the interesting stats:

62.5% of males wanted a brownie with an edge, with 50% of all males specifically preferring a corner.

56.6% of females wanted a brownie from the center.

So this outcome supports our hypothesis that a correlation exists between brownie edge preference and gender!

As for frosting, only 15% of people would change their answer if the brownie was frosted, with 42.86% of those people switching to a center piece. We didn’t find a deeper meaning here though: results were pretty much even when segmented by gender and unfrosted edge preference.

What’s more, we had great participation stats, 93 responses represents a 70.66% start rate and a 90.57% completion rate for those who started. These participation rates are better by a great margin than most of the more serious questions we ask in our surveys. Maybe that represents an interest in esoteric behavioral preferences, or maybe people just like brownies. It definitely supports the case for short, interesting surveys. If you don’t really need to know what someone thought of the napkins (on a 100-point scale) at your last event, don’t ask it!

This experiment also echoes the way we handle actual client-driven work. We are presented with a situation and immediately begin to notice trends and develop hunches, but we don’t act on them until we have the information that backs them up or points us in another direction. And most of the time, it backs us up. We know more than brownies!

So, if you are one of the folks who like brownies with an edge, then here is a baking idea for you. We’re re-dubbing it “The Manly-Man Brownie Pan” for statistical reasons.

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