Experimental studies on questionnaire design in political surveys -PhD thesis-

Publication type

Thesis/Degree/Other Honours


Publication date

June 1, 2021


This thesis is a collection of three studies that contribute to the area of survey methodology. The primary aim is to contribute to questionnaire design in political surveys. The research focus is on examining the interaction of questionnaire design characteristics and respondents’ background on survey response. I focus on questions that were included in political surveys and experimentally randomised (American National Election Study 2008 and 2012). I use as dependent variables questions that evaluate Presidential candidates (first and third study) and self-reported ability on understanding politics (second study). I examine whether and how question order, response scale direction, response scale type and interviewers’ background (partisanship) interact with respondents’ background (partisanship or political knowledge) affecting response. I use regression analysis to examine the effect of the interaction terms on survey response. The findings are mixed but there are trends across the three studies. The questionnaire design characteristics usually do not affect response, but some of the interactions between questionnaire design characteristics and respondents' background do affect response. The results suggest that 1) response can be skewed by the interaction between questionnaire design characteristics and respondents’ background, 2) the statistically significant findings are concentrated on specific groups of respondents and question topics, and, 3) overall direction of response is not affected by the interaction. The thesis discusses the importance of considering respondents’ background when designing questionnaires and the implications for political researchers when using data from a survey study where randomisations were applied.



- http://repository.essex.ac.uk/30655/



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