Comparing Questions with Agree/Disagree Response Options to Questions with Item-Specific Response Options

Willem Saris, Melanie Revilla, Jon A. Krosnick, Eric M. Shaeffer

Abstract


Although Agree/Disagree (A/D) rating scales are hugely popular in the social sciences, a large body of research conducted during more than five decades has documented the bias that results from acquiescence in responses to these items. This may be a reason to prefer questions with Item Specific (IS) response options, but remarkably little research has explored whether responses to A/D rating scale questions are indeed of lower quality than responses to questions with IS response options. Using a research design that combines the advantages of a random assignment between-subjects experiment and the multitrait-multimethod approach in the context of representative sample surveys, we found that responses to A/D rating scale questions indeed had much lower quality than responses to comparable questions offering IS response options. These results attest to the superiority of questions with IS response options.

Keywords


Quality of Agree/disagree scales, item specific scales, Split ballot MTMM

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18148/srm/2010.v4i1.2682

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