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Response effects in surveys on children and adolescents: the effect of number of response options, negative wording, and neutral mid-point

By J.J. Hox, N. Borgers and S. Dirk

Abstract

Social researchers increasingly survey children and young adolescents. They are convinced\ud that information about perspectives, attitudes, and behaviors of children should be collected\ud from the children themselves. Methodological expertise on surveying children is still scarce, and\ud researchers rely on ad-hoc knowledge from fields such as child psychiatry and educational testing, or\ud on methodological knowledge on surveying adults. Regarding adults, empirical evidence shows that\ud respondent characteristics (cognitive abilities) as well as question characteristics (question difficulty)\ud affect response quality.\ud This study reports on a methodological survey experiment on the effect of negatively formulated\ud questions, the number of response options and offering a neutral midpoint as response option\ud question characteristics on the reliability of the responses, using children and young adolescents as\ud respondents.\ud The study shows no effects of negatively formulated questions on the reliability measures,\ud although children respond consistently differently on negatively formulated questions than on positively\ud formulated questions. Taking all results on the effects of number of response options and\ud offering a neutral midpoints on the different reliability measures into consideration; it would appear\ud that offering about four response options is optimal with children as respondents

Topics: Sociale Wetenschappen, question characteristics, stability over time, internal consistency,, response quality, reliability
Year: 2004
OAI identifier: oai:dspace.library.uu.nl:1874/23628
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