Poster (Scientific congresses, symposiums and conference proceedings)
The influence of Forced Answering on response behavior in Online Surveys: A reactance effect?
Sischka, Philipp; Mergener, Alexandra; Neufang, Kristina Marliese et al.
201719th General Online Research Conference


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Keywords :
Online survey research; Forced answering; reactance
Abstract :
[en] 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.
Disciplines :
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)
Mergener, Alexandra
Neufang, Kristina Marliese
External co-authors :
Language :
Title :
The influence of Forced Answering on response behavior in Online Surveys: A reactance effect?
Publication date :
16 March 2017
Event name :
19th General Online Research Conference
Event organizer :
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Online-Forschung (DGOF)
Event place :
Berlin, Germany
Event date :
from 15-03-2017 to 17-03-2017
Audience :
Available on ORBilu :
since 20 March 2017


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