When answering questions on sensitive behaviors, many respondents show a specifie variant of response error: They tend to report fewer instances of undesired behaviors compared to what they have actually experienced. This is called underreporting. It is assumed that respondents avoid reporting unfavorable conduct because they do not want to admit socially undesirable behaviors, which in turn leads to this type of misre-porting. Similar effects are known for responses to survey questions about unpopular attitudes.
Currently, it is not known whether underreporting is the result of a deliberate manipulation of the true answer or whether it occurs subconsciously. Nevertheless, for the most part it is assumed to be a response error that is associated to the cognitive editing stage of the question-answer process. Misreporting due to ...
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