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Question Order Effects

In: Encyclopedia of Survey Research Methods

Edited by: Paul J. Lavrakas Published: 2008 DOI:
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The order in which questions are asked in a questionnaire can have a significant effect on the results. The preceding questions provide the context in which the respondent answers an item, and changing this context can make a large difference in the survey results.

There are a number of ways in which items that appear earlier in a questionnaire can affect responses to later questions. One is by establishing a norm of reciprocity or fairness, a frequently cited example of which is provided by the work of Herbert Hyman and Paul Sheatsley from more than 50 years ago. These researchers varied the order of two questions: one on whether the United States should allow communist reporters from other countries to come to the United States ...

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