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Surveys as a social experience: The lingering effects of survey design choices on respondents' survey experience and subsequent optimizing behavior

Journal article
Authors Delia Dumitrescu
Johan Martinsson
Published in International journal of public opinion research
Volume 28
Issue 4
Pages 534-561
ISSN 0954-2892
Publication year 2016
Published at Department of Political Science
Pages 534-561
Language en
Keywords survey questionnaires
Subject categories Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)


We propose that the design of earlier survey sections affects respondents’ response strategy to later unrelated questions. We hypothesize that the structure of the survey is socially construed, and when earlier survey design features are respectful of the rules of social conversation, individuals are more likely to optimize their responses later on and express more satisfaction in end-of-survey evaluations. We find evidence supporting these expectations from two experiments, but more research is needed to sort out the causal mechanism responsible for these effects.

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