“Order Effects” in Survey Research: Activation and Information Functions of Preceding Questions
The expression “order effect” refers to the well-documented phenomenon that different orders in which the questions (or response alternatives) are presented may influence respondents’ answers in a more or less systematic fashion (cf. Schuman & Presser, 1981). Thus, Question A may be answered differently if it is asked before Question B compared with a situation in which the order of the two questions is reversed. This, of course, implies that the survey researcher controls the sequence in which the questions are presented. If this is not the case, the relative position of a question is less important in determining its influence (cf. Schwarz, Strack, Hippler, & Bishop, in press). To avoid unnecessary complications, however, the scope of this chapter will be confined to situations in which the questions have to be answered in the sequence in which they are presented.
KeywordsOrder Effect Contrast Effect Intended Meaning Previous Question Conversational Context
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