[en] 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.
Sociology & social sciences
Author, co-author :
Sischka, Philipp ; University of Luxembourg > Faculty of Language and Literature, Humanities, Arts and Education (FLSHASE) > Integrative Research Unit: Social and Individual Development (INSIDE)
Neufang, Kristina Marliese
Decieux, Jean Philippe Pierre ; University of Luxembourg > Faculty of Language and Literature, Humanities, Arts and Education (FLSHASE) > Integrative Research Unit: Social and Individual Development (INSIDE)
External co-authors :
Forced Answering in Online Surveys: Is it really a reactance effect that reduces data quality?
Publication date :
14 October 2016
Event name :
18th European Sociological Association Midterm Conference of RN 21: Quantitative Methods