Skip to main content

Response set and bias in surveys

Response set 
is a tendency to respond similarly to all or many questions such as frequently choosing "somewhat agree" on scale options ranging from "strongly agree" to "strongly disagree."

Response bias occurs when respondents deliberately give false responses.

There are many forms of response bias.

Acquiescence bias occurs when respondents select only positive answers. This is also called "yea-saying."

Demand characteristics influence answers to survey items when the respondent attempts to provide answers according to the way they think an ideal participant should respond.

Extreme bias occurs when respondents frequently choose the extreme options on survey items such as the "Strongly Agree" and "Strongly Disagree" options.

Hostility bias occurs when respondents feel provoked by items in the survey. Researchers must take care in wording items that may be sensitive. Explanations and instructions might help reduce hostility.

Nay-saying is the opposite of Acquiescence bias. Respondents select only, or mostly, negative responses.

Nonresponse bias refers to suspected differences between the people who respond to take a survey and those who do not.

Learn More about research methods in Creating Surveys on AMAZON or GOOGLE

Prestige bias is like social desirability bias focused on a specific aspect of a tendency to want to appear as having a higher social status in terms of a culture's values such as education, wealth, or social power.

Primacy bias or primacy effects occur when respondents choose the first available response to each item.

Recall bias occurs whenever respondents rely on their memory to respond to survey items. Human memory is not infallible and it is subject to many biases.

Recency bias, or recency effect, is the tendency of respondents to choose a response based on their previous--most recent--response. Participants may disengage after a long survey.

Response order bias occurs when respondents do not carefully weigh all the options but chose one that comes easily to mind. Context can make a difference. Contrast effects can be seen when the order of questions reveals large differences in the responses obtained. Assimilation effects occur when the order of survey items leads to more similar responses.

Self-selection bias occurs when people participate who were not chosen to be a part of the sample.

Social response bias, also called social desirability bias, refers to a tendency of respondents to over-report socially desirable or "good" responses.

Sponsorship bias occurs when respondents are aware of who is sponsoring the survey and their perception of that organization influences their responses.

Stereotype bias occurs when items evoke a personal response, which activates a respondent's stereotypes. Stereotypes are widely held  simplistic and relatively fixed beliefs about groups of people such as "all men or all women" and "all Blacks or all Whites." Stereotypes can also exist about companies, things, and ideas. Read about stereotypes.

Straight lining occurs when respondents choose the same answer. Sometimes this can be avoided by using reverse scaling of items or identified by including items that people would rarely endorse.

Related Issues

Satisficing is a term referring to the degree to which a respondent processes the survey item. Some may quickly respond and others may think carefully about the item.

Commonly misreported topics in surveys include abilities and skills, personality characteristics, sexual behavior, religion and spirituality, income, and unlawful behavior.

Response bias is difficult to eliminate.


My Page
My Books  AMAZON                       GOOGLE STORE

FACEBOOK   Geoff W. Sutton
TWITTER  @Geoff.W.Sutton

Publications (many free downloads)
Academia   Geoff W Sutton   (PhD)     

  ResearchGate   Geoffrey W Sutton   (PhD)

If you are a counselor or psychotherapist, you may find this book helpful. It is also available on AMAZON.


Popular posts from this blog

Personal Self-Concept Questionnaire (PSQ)

  The Personal Self-Concept Questionnaire  ( PSQ )   Overview The Personal Self-Concept Questionnaire (PSQ) measures self-concept based on ratings of 18 items, which are grouped into four categories: Self-fulfilment, autonomy, honesty, and emotional self-concept. Subscales : The PSQ has four subscales 1. Self-fulfilment (6 items) 2. Autonomy (4 items) 3. Honesty (3 items) 4. Emotional self-concept (5 items)  👉 [ Read more about Self-Concept and Self-Identity] The PSQ is a Likert-type scale with five response options ranging from totally disagree to totally agree. Reliability and Validity In the first study, coefficient alpha = .85 and in study two, alpha = .83. Data analysis supported a four-dimensional model (see the four categories above). Positive correlations with other self-concept measures were statistically significant. Other notes The authors estimated it took about 10 minutes to complete the PSQ. Their first study included people ages 12 to 36 ( n = 506). In the second s

Student Self-Efficacy

  Assessment name:  STUDENT SELF-EFFICACY SCALE * Note. This post has been updated to provide an available measure of student self-efficacy. ———- Scale overview:  The  student self-efficacy scale i s a 10-item measure of self-efficacy. It was developed using data from university nursing students in the United States. Authors: Melodie Rowbotham and Gerdamarie Schmitz Response Type:  A four-choice rating scale as follows: 1 = not at all true 2 = hardly true 3 = moderately true 4 = exactly true   Self-efficacy is the perception that a person can act in a way to achieve a desired goal.  Scale items There are 10 items. Examples: I am confident in my ability to learn, even if I am having a bad day. If I try hard enough, I can obtain the academic goals I desire.   Psychometric properties The authors reported that their sample scores ranged from 25 to 40 with a scale mean of 34.23 ( SD  = 3.80. Internal consistency was high at alpha = .84. The authors reported the results of a principal compon

Mathematics Self-Efficacy and Anxiety Questionnaire (MSEAQ)

  Scale name: Mathematics Self-Efficacy and Anxiety Questionnaire (MSEAQ) Scale overview: The Mathematics Self-Efficacy and Anxiety Questionnaire (MSEAQ) is a 29-item self-report measure of both mathematics self-efficacy and mathematics anxiety. Author: Diana Kathleen May Response Type: Items are rated on a 5-point Likert-type scale following a “no response” option: 1 = Never 2 = Seldom 3 = Sometimes 4 = Often 5 = usually Sample items 1. I feel confident enough to ask questions  in my mathematics class. 6. I worry that I will not be able to get a  good grade in my mathematics course.   Subscales and basic statistics for the MSEAQ       Self-Efficacy M = 44.11, SD = 10.78, alpha = .93       Anxiety M = 46.47, SD = 12.61, alpha = .93       Total Scale M = 90.58, SD = 22.78, alpha = .96 Reliability: See the Cronbach’s alpha levels reported above. Validity: There were significant positive correlations with similar measures. The results of a Fa