Skip to main content
Article thumbnail
Location of Repository

A defiance attitude towards experts? On the influence of emphasising researcher’s expertise on participants’ causal attribution ratings in a closed-response format

By Hannah Wallner, Christina Breitenladner and Matthias Spörrle


Objectives. Formal features of a questionnaire influence self-reports on central psychological constructs such as causal attributions: Using open-response formats Norenzayan and Schwarz (1999) demonstrated that respondents provided causal explanations for a given event corresponding with the researcher’s communicated research field. Extending this, our research investigates the influence of emphasising the researcher’s expertise on causal attributions using closed-response formats. Methods. In a 3 (field of research: personality, social, criminology) × 2 (emphasis of expertise: yes, no) between-subjects design, students (N = 144) rated the importance of specified personality-based causal explanations for a crime. Results. ANCOVA analysis (covariates: age, gender, personality dimensions) yielded a significant disordinal medium-sized interaction: When expertise was emphasised for the personality researcher, importance ratings of personality reasons decreased, whereas these ratings increased when expertise was emphasised for the social researcher. Conclusion. Respondents oppose authority and emphasise causal attributions contrary to the researcher’s epistemic interest when expertise is emphasised.

Topics: Tagungsbeiträge, ddc:150
Year: 2009
OAI identifier:
Provided by: Open Access LMU

Suggested articles


  1. (2001). Asking questions about behavior: Cognition, communication and questionnaire construction.
  2. (2005). assessed the participants’ personality traits.
  3. (2005). Kurzversion des Big Five Inventory (BFI K). Diagnostica, 51, 195 206. Contact: spoerrle@psy.uni In this study, respondents’ tendency to provide answers according to the pretended field of expertise of the researcher (cf. Norenzayan & Schwarz,
  4. (1975). Logic and conversation. In
  5. (1999). Telling what they want to know: Participants tailor causal attributions to researchers’ interests.
  6. (2007). The influence of response lines on response behavior in the context of open question formats.
  7. (1999). these results were only obtained, when the expertise of the researcher was not emphasised (i.e., in a condition identical with the paradigm of Norenzayan
  8. (2007). What is sexual harassment? It depends on who asks! Framing effects on survey responses.

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.