“The Modal American” Listening Guide

Generations and Ages in 2020*
Baby Boomers: Age 55-70
Gen X: Age 40-54
Millennials (aka “Echo-Boomers”): Age 25-39
Gen Z (aka “Zoomers”): Age 10-24
Gen Alpha: <10
*This recording is from 2019, so the ages they mention are a year off.


  1. Why is it inaccurate to search for the “average” American?
  2. When someone refers to an “average” American, what are they referring to?
  3. In statistics, what is the “mode”?
  4. Who is Ben Castleman? What does he do?
  5. What is inaccurate about the “average American” that results from many studies?


  1. What are the researchers trying to find?
  2. What are Castleman’s findings on age? Why is this interesting?
  3. Why can’t we use the “median American” to find this information?
  4. What areas of a people’s lives are they looking for in this study? How are they getting the information? How is this helping them to find the modal American?


  1. What “modal American” were the researchers initially looking for? Why is that flawed?
  2. How did they have to change the methodology to fix this flaw?
  3. Why is finding the modal American in each category not sufficient? (Example)
  4. What was the final method used for analyzing the data?
  5. Who is the modal American? How did this surprise them? Why did it make sense?
  6. Why was this finding a problem? How did they change their question in order to account for this problem?
  7. Who is the second place (or “first runner up”) modal American?
  8. Who is the modal American? What does the modal American say about themselves?


  1. What was surprising about the modal American? Why does it make sense according to the researchers?
  2. What information did Jacob get from the modal American on the phone? Why do you think he asked these questions?
  3. What do they predict will happen to the modal American over time?
  4. What is the significance of this research?
  5. What is the surprise at the end? Why is this interesting?
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