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Explaining Information Effects in Collective Preferences
Unformatted Document Text:  • Question order. Because motivation to engage in systematic processing should decline over the course of an interview as respondent fatigue increases, the relative location of a question within the survey instrument should be related to the prevalence of response effects. Satisficing behavior should be more common for questions appearing later in the survey (Krosnick 1991). • Mode of administering the survey. Satisficing behavior is expected to produce different consequences in face-to-face and telephone surveys due to the different memory processes that come into play when response options are presented visually or verbally (Green, Krosnick, and Holbrook 2001; Krosnick 1991). The confounding effects of a variety of factors as well as the lack of comparability across studies have resulted in few general conclusions about data quality associated with mode effects (Groves 1989: chapter 11; Krosnick and Fabrigar forthcoming), but it seems reasonable to expect that the decreased social presence of the interviewer in a telephone survey should lessen respondent motivation to engage in systematic processing. 5 Consistent with previous findings on question format effects (for reviews of these findings, see Alwin and Krosnick 1991; Krosnick 1991, 1999a, 1999b; Krosnick and Fabrigar 1997, forthcoming), table 1 shows that the percentage of DK/NO responses is lower in questions phrased in the form of such findings is sometimes open to question. For instance, the reliability of individual items located later in a scale series can be higher than that of items placed toward the beginning of a series (Knowles and Byers 1996), suggesting that respondents either learn how to more reliably map their opinions onto the scale with subsequent questions or that respondent fatigue or disinterest leads increases scale non-differentiation. 5 Put another way, while a desire to please the interviewer or to avoid appearing uninformed or disinterested in a socially important topic should not differ between respondents in telephone and face-to-face interviews, the physical presence of the interviewer in a face-to-face setting allows respondents to monitor the nonverbal feedback from interviewers in addition to the verbal feedback common to both modes of survey administration. Given this increased social presence, respondents may be more motivated in face-to-face interviews to give opinions and engage in systematic processing. Yet while the added motivation provided by face-to-face interviews could lead to optimizing behavior, it might also lead to biased processing by encouraging low-ability or unmotivated respondents to lean heavily on heuristic cues, to engage in biased information retrieval, to be especially prone to social desirability effects, or to give opinions on topics for which they possess no attitudes. For instance, one study found that the accuracy of reporting past voting behavior was greater in telephone than in face to face interviews, with the increased social presence of in-person interviews leading to greater misreporting of voting when the respondent had not in fact voted (Rogers 1989).

Authors: Althaus, Scott.
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Question order. Because motivation to engage in systematic processing should
decline over the course of an interview as respondent fatigue increases, the
relative location of a question within the survey instrument should be related
to the prevalence of response effects. Satisficing behavior should be more
common for questions appearing later in the survey (Krosnick 1991).
Mode of administering the survey. Satisficing behavior is expected to produce
different consequences in face-to-face and telephone surveys due to the
different memory processes that come into play when response options are
presented visually or verbally (Green, Krosnick, and Holbrook 2001; Krosnick
1991). The confounding effects of a variety of factors as well as the lack of
comparability across studies have resulted in few general conclusions about
data quality associated with mode effects (Groves 1989: chapter 11; Krosnick
and Fabrigar forthcoming), but it seems reasonable to expect that the
decreased social presence of the interviewer in a telephone survey should
lessen respondent motivation to engage in systematic processing.
5
Consistent with previous findings on question format effects (for reviews of these findings, see
Alwin and Krosnick 1991; Krosnick 1991, 1999a, 1999b; Krosnick and Fabrigar 1997, forthcoming),
table 1 shows that the percentage of DK/NO responses is lower in questions phrased in the form of
such findings is sometimes open to question. For instance, the reliability of individual items located later in a scale
series can be higher than that of items placed toward the beginning of a series (Knowles and Byers 1996), suggesting
that respondents either learn how to more reliably map their opinions onto the scale with subsequent questions or that
respondent fatigue or disinterest leads increases scale non-differentiation.
5 Put another way, while a desire to please the interviewer or to avoid appearing uninformed or disinterested in
a socially important topic should not differ between respondents in telephone and face-to-face interviews, the
physical presence of the interviewer in a face-to-face setting allows respondents to monitor the nonverbal feedback
from interviewers in addition to the verbal feedback common to both modes of survey administration. Given this
increased social presence, respondents may be more motivated in face-to-face interviews to give opinions and
engage in systematic processing. Yet while the added motivation provided by face-to-face interviews could lead to
optimizing behavior, it might also lead to biased processing by encouraging low-ability or unmotivated respondents
to lean heavily on heuristic cues, to engage in biased information retrieval, to be especially prone to social
desirability effects, or to give opinions on topics for which they possess no attitudes. For instance, one study found
that the accuracy of reporting past voting behavior was greater in telephone than in face to face interviews, with the
increased social presence of in-person interviews leading to greater misreporting of voting when the respondent had
not in fact voted (Rogers 1989).


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