A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46

2 i



1. 2369 people, forming a representative sample of those in England, Scotland and Wales over 17 years old who were civilians at the end of 1945, were interviewed, in order to estimate how many claims were likely to be initiated for the Defence Medal.

2. From the results it was estimated that although approximately nine and a half million people appeared to be eligible, the number of claims was not likely to be over three million or under half a million. It was considered likely to be between one and a half and two and a half millions, and most probably nearer the former figure. Estimates were also given of the claims likely to be made under various categories of eligibility, and 0f the proportion which would have supplementary forms attached.

3. About half of the people who appeared to be eligible had not heard anything about the medal, and many of those who had were not sufficiently interested to initiate claims. Difficulties in completing the forms tended to prevent some people, but relatively few, from claiming.


4. This part of the report discusses how the information obtained could be applied if further publicity was considered desirable for the Defence Medal. The main psychological conditions limiting the number of applications were found to be:

ignorance of the medal's existence,

lack of esteem for medals in general and for the Defence Medal in particular,

people's uncertainty about their own qualifications,

prevailing impressions that most eligible people were not troubling to apply.

Means of overcoming these limitations are discussed.


5. The number of applications received by the Home Office up to May 1st, 1947 was 480 thousand. This is much less than the number estimated in the preliminary report. Fortunately the error does not appear to have produced serious administrative consequences.

6. A review of possible sources of error suggests that the sampling method and the wording of the questions were probably not contributory causes. A discrepancy may have arisen because the estimate of the number of claims initiated is compared with the figure given for the number received, and some loss may have occurred between initiation and reception. But this discrepancy is not sufficient to account for the whole of the difference. The main part of the error is attributed to sources of unreliability in the statements given by the informants, for which experimental controls had not been provided.

7. Two improvements in the design of the enquiry are suggested, which might have secured more reliable information. One is that of revisiting informants and comparing the statements they make on the two occasions. The other is that of conducting a series of surveys at intervals of time.

8. Measures of the reliability of the answers to some of the questions are given. Evidence was found that the interviews modified the opinions of the informants in some respects.

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