Political Behavior

, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp 177–200 | Cite as

Political information processing: Question order and context effects

  • George F. Bishop
  • Robert W. Oldendick
  • Alfred J. Tuchfarber


Data from two independent field experiments indicate that changes in question order and context may well account for an apparently precipitous decline of interest in politics at the time of the CPS 1978 American National Election Study. Evidence from a question order experiment with the SRC/CPS “feeling thermometers” also suggests that such contextual artifacts may not be atypical. Indeed, because of the many changes in the content and organization of the election studies over the years, context effects represent plausible rival hypotheses for a number of inexplicable shifts and trends in the time-series. In testing these hypotheses the authors derive and validate an information-processing model of how respondents infer their political “states of mind” from observations of their own question-answering behavior in the survey interview. In addition, the authors illustrate the wide applicability of the model tosubstantive problems in the discipline and its implications for the survey-based paradigm in political behavior research.


Context Effect Wide Applicability Political Behavior National Election Election Study 
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Copyright information

© Agathon Press, Inc. 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • George F. Bishop
    • 1
  • Robert W. Oldendick
    • 1
  • Alfred J. Tuchfarber
    • 1
  1. 1.Behavioral Sciences Laboratory, Institute for Policy ResearchUniversity of CincinnatiUSA

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