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See detailThe influence of Forced Answering on response behavior in Online Surveys: A reactance effect?
Sischka, Philipp UL; Mergener, Alexandra; Neufang, Kristina Marliese et al

Poster (2017, March 16)

Relevance: Recent studies have shown that the use of the forced answering (FA) option in online surveys results in reduced data. They especially examined that forcing respondents to answer questions in ... [more ▼]

Relevance: Recent studies have shown that the use of the forced answering (FA) option in online surveys results in reduced data. They especially examined that forcing respondents to answer questions in order to proceed through the questionnaire leads to higher dropout rates and lower answer quality. However, no study researched the psychological mechanism behind the correlation of FA on dropout and data quality before. This response behavior has often been interpreted as psychological reactance reaction. So, the Psychological Reactance Theory (PRT) predicts that reactance appears when an individuals’ freedom is threatened and cannot be directly restored. Reactance describes the motivation to restore this loss of freedom. Respondents could experience FA as a loss of freedom, as (s)he is denied the choice to leave a question unanswered. According to PRT, possible reactions in this situation might be to quit survey participation, to fake answers or to show satisficing tendencies. Research content: This study explores the psychological mechanism that effects response behavior in FA condition (compared to non-FA- condition). Our major hypothesis is that forcing respondents to answer will cause reactance, which turns into increasing dropout rates, decreasing answer quality and a satisficing behavior. Methods and Data: We used an online survey-experiment with two conditions (forced and non-forced answering instructions). The sample consists of 914 participants. Throughout the whole questionnaire, a dropout button was implemented on each page. In both conditions, this button led to the same page that fully compliant participants reached at the end of the questionnaire. Reactance was measured with a self-constructed four-item reactance scale. To determine answer quality, we used self-report for faking as well as the analysis of answers to open ended questions. Results: Zero-order effects showed that FA increased state reactance and questionnaire dropout as well as it reduced answer length in open-ended questions. Mediation analysis (Condition -> state reactance -> dropout/answer quality) supported the hypothesis of reactance as an underlying psychological mechanism behind negative FA effects on data quality. Added Value: This is the first study which offers statistical evidence for the often proposed reactance effect influencing response behavior. This offers a base for a deeper psychological reflection of the use of the FA-option. [less ▲]

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Full Text
Peer Reviewed
See detailForced Answering in Online Surveys: Is it really a reactance effect that reduces data quality?
Sischka, Philipp UL; Mergener, Alexandra; Neufang, Kristina Marliese et al

Scientific Conference (2016, October 14)

Online surveys are conducted without adequate attention to implementation details too often. One example is the frequent use of the forced answering (FA) option, which forces the respondent to answer ... [more ▼]

Online surveys are conducted without adequate attention to implementation details too often. One example is the frequent use of the forced answering (FA) option, which forces the respondent to answer questions in order to proceed through the questionnaire. Currently, only a few studies have researched the impact of FA on different quality parameters. Some studies that evaluated the influence of FA on quality parameters (e.g. drop-out or answer quality) hypothesized that FA leads to reactance in the participants indicated by a higher drop-out-rate as well as lower answer quality. However, no study researched the psychological mechanism behind the correlation of FA on dropout and data quality before. Psychological Reactance Theory predicts that reactance appears when an individual’s freedom is threatened and cannot be directly restored. Reactance describes the motivation to restore this loss of freedom. Respondents could experience FA as a loss of freedom, as (s)he is denied the choice to leave a question unanswered. According to Reactance Theory possible reactions in this situation might be to quit survey participation or to fake answers. This study examines the psychological mechanism that explains higher amounts of dropout and faking behavior in FA condition (compared to non-FA- condition). Our major hypothesis is that forcing respondents to answer will cause reactance, which turns into increasing dropout rates and decreasing answer quality. We used split-ballot-field-experiments with a forced and non-forced answering instruction. Reactance was measured with a four-item reactance scale. To determine answer quality, we used self-report for faking. Our Mediation analysis shows that respondents in FA condition report higher amounts of reactance compared to respondents in non-FA condition. In addition to that reactance also is a strong predictor for dropout behavior, faking, or re-participation. Therefore, the influence of FA on quality parameters is mediated through reactance. [less ▲]

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