Evaluating the Validity of Self-Reported Deviant Behavior Using Vignette Analyses
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- Eifler, S. Qual Quant (2007) 41: 303. doi:10.1007/s11135-007-9093-3
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In this paper, the validity of vignette analyses of various forms of deviant behavior in the presence of opportunities is analyzed on the basis of ideas derived from cognitive psychology. Abelson’s Script Theory together with insights into human memory of visual and verbal information, allow the assumption that vignette analyses using visual stimuli are valid measures of deviant behavior in particular. The study includes an empirical examination of these ideas (n = 450). Nonparticipant observations and vignette analyses with visual and verbal material were carried out with regard to three forms of deviant behavior occurring in the presence of opportunities presenting themselves in everyday life. Observed and self-reported frequencies of deviant behavior or deviant intentions were counted and cross-tabulated. Log-linear analyses with dummy coding using observation data as reference category were run. Data analyses yielded the result that frequencies of deviant behavior were related to the techniques of data collection under consideration. Especially vignette analyses of the return of ‘lost letters’ that use both visual and verbal stimuli overestimate ‘actual’ (i.e. observed) return rates. This result is discussed with regard to the underlying methodological assumptions as well as its implications.