The term context effect refers to a process in which prior questions affect responses to later questions in surveys. Any survey that contains multiple questions is susceptible to context effects. Context effects have the potential to bias the thinking and answers of survey respondents, which reduces the accuracy of answers and increases the error in survey measurement. Psychologists refer to context effects as the general effect of priming. Priming occurs when the previous activation of one type of information in active memory affects the processing of subsequent related information. For example, the prior presentation of the word doctor reduces the time it takes to subsequently recognize the word nurse in comparison to an unrelated word. This priming effect is thought to occur because the activation ...
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