, Volume 44, Issue 2, pp 539–558 | Cite as

Question word-order influences on covariate effects: predicting zero-sum beliefs

  • Michael SmithsonEmail author
  • Yiyun Shou
  • Alice Yu
Invited Paper


Zero-sum-like statements have the form “The more of resource X for consumer A, the less of resource Y for consumer B” and these have four permutations, whereby {X, A} and {B, Y} exchange places, and/or “more” and “less” exchange places. Smithson and Shou (Front Psychol 7:984, 2016) found that these permutations strongly influence the endorsement of such statements. This paper reports two studies investigating personality traits as predictors of zero-sum endorsements, and whether their predictive performance is moderated by statement permutations. Social Dominance Orientation, Competitive World View, the Egocentricity subscale from the Levenson Self-Report Psychopathy Scale, and the Interpersonal subscale from the Hare Self-Report Psychopathy Scale are shown to be positively associated with zero-sum endorsement, whereas none of the Big-5 personality factors are. Only the Egocentricity subscale’s effect is moderated by statement permutations, so that for high scores on the subscale, zero-sum endorsement is boosted in such a way that the permutation effects disappear. The paper concludes with a discussion of the methodological implications of attitude statement permutation effects.


Questionnaire design Word-order effect Zero-sum Measurement 



Funding was provided by Australian Research Council (Grant No. DP120101095).


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Copyright information

© The Behaviormetric Society 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Research School of PsychologyThe Australian National UniversityCanberraAustralia

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