Explaining Response Styles and Response Bias Using the Attitude Towards Surveys and the Attitude Accessibility Towards the Research Topic

Monday, 16 July 2018: 17:00
Oral Presentation
Christoph GIEHL, TU Kaiserslautern, Germany
Jochen MAYERL, University of Kaiserslautern, Germany
Cognitive dual-process models of response behavior distinguish between two groups of respondents: those giving answers based on simple decision heuristics (quick respondents’) and those giving answers based on deliberative thoughts (slow respondents’). Empirical studies show that both response styles are susceptible to different types of response effects.

For fast respondents’, the chronic attitude accessibility is assumed to be a moderator of the attitude-response process: if the accessibility is high, respondents’ will answer based on their attitudes. If it is low, they will answer bases on simple decision heuristics or situational cues. We assume that those respondents who give automatic-spontaneous answers without chronic attitude accessibility are those who will most likely be affected by response effects which demand lower levels of elaboration (like acquiescence effects).

Furthermore, respondents’ can be distinguished based on their general attitude towards sur-veys, which leads to a specific role in surveys. Those roles can either be cooperative, which means respondents’ try to answer every question as true as possible, or the role can be con-forming, which means respondents’ are using cost-benefit-considerations when answering questions, which often leads to a biased answer. Since those considerations presuppose a higher level of elaboration, we suppose that the general attitude towards surveys is a moderator only for slow responses. Therefore, response effects which demand higher levels of elaboration (like the contrast effect of question order) should be observable especially for slow responders with a negative general attitude towards surveys.

To examine this assumption, we investigate the link between the general attitude towards sur-veys, the attitude accessibility and the occurance of response effects (e.g. the acquiescence effect and the assimilation and contrast effect of question order) to explain method effects and response styles. For this examination, we will use the data of a German longitudinal mixed mode study, the GESIS panel.