Home > Publications . Search All . Browse All . Country . Browse PSC Pubs . PSC Report Series

PSC In The News

RSS Feed icon

Sastry's 10-year study of New Orleans Katrina evacuees shows demographic differences between returning and nonreturning

Stafford says less educated, smaller investors more likely to sell off stock and lock in losses during market downturn

Chen says job fit, job happiness can be achieved over time

Highlights

Deirdre Bloome wins ASA award for work on racial inequality and intergenerational transmission

Bob Willis awarded 2015 Jacob Mincer Award for Lifetime Contributions to the Field of Labor Economics

David Lam is new director of Institute for Social Research

Elizabeth Bruch wins Robert Merton Prize for paper in analytic sociology

Next Brown Bag

Monday, Oct 12
Joe Grengs, Policy & Planning for Social Equity in Transportation

Can Verbal Instructions Counteract Visual Context Effects in Web Surveys?

Publication Abstract

Toepoel, Vera, and Mick P. Couper. 2011. "Can Verbal Instructions Counteract Visual Context Effects in Web Surveys?" Public Opinion Quarterly, 75(1): 1-18.

Pictures used to supplement survey questions can systematically influence the answers obtained. Respondents react to the content of the image, giving higher-frequency reports when pictures of high-frequency events are shown and lower-frequency reports when pictures of low-frequency events are shown. The effects of pictures on responses are similar to those of verbal instructions (i.e., they produce an assimilation effect). Our results show that verbal and visual language both have independent effects as well as interact with each other. Verbal instructions have stronger effects than the visual effects produced by pictures, however, and can be used to counteract the visual context effects. We find that respondents pay more attention to verbal instruction when the verbal and visual cues are inconsistent with each other. This article provides evidence for a hierarchy of features that respondents attend to, with verbal language taking precedence over visual cues like pictures. Effective question writing, with verbal instructions making the question clear to respondents, reduces visual context effects. We found little evidence that conditions with pictures were evaluated better than conditions without pictures.

DOI:10.1093/poq/nfq044 (Full Text)

Country of focus: Netherlands.

Browse | Search : All Pubs | Next