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LINGUIST List 23.4953

Tue Nov 27 2012

Books: Positive Versus Negative: Kamoen

Editor for this issue: Danniella Hornby <daniellalinguistlist.org>

Date: 20-Nov-2012
From: Mariƫtte Bonenkamp <lotuu.nl>
Subject: Positive Versus Negative: Kamoen
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Title: Positive Versus Negative
Subtitle: A cognitive perspective on wording effects for contrastive questions in
attitude surveys

Series Title: LOT dissertation series

Publication Year: 2012
Publisher: Netherlands Graduate School of Linguistics / Landelijke - LOT

Author: Naomi Kamoen

Paperback: ISBN: 9789460930836 Pages: Price: Europe EURO


This study is the first to show that the choice for a positive or a negative
question wording systematically affects survey answers: respondents are more
likely to answer no or disagree to negative attitude questions (e.g. X is bad.
Yes/No) than to answer yes or agree to equivalent positive ones (e.g. X is
good. Yes/No). To unravel the causes for this positive/negative asymmetry, we
related wording effects to the cognitive processes underlying question answering. Two
eye-tracking studies were conducted to obtain information about the temporal
aspects of the question-answering process for positive versus negative
questions. The observed time differences were subsequently related to a
theoretical model for the question-answering process. This was done using a
combination of insights about processing survey questions, experimental
designs in which that knowledge was used, and newly designed eye-tracking
measures that are relevant for these specific purposes. With this combination
of strategies we were able to demonstrate that contrastive questions cause
similar attitudes to be retrieved from memory. Therefore, they measure the
same underlying attitude, and hence, are equally valid. Wording effects arise
when respondents translate their own opinion into the response options. During
this stage, the answering options are assigned a meaning that is not absolute,
but relative to the polarity of the evaluative term in the question. The
conclusions drawn from this study have implications for theories about text
processing in general, and for theories about the cognitive processes of
question-answering in particular. These implications, as well as the
implications for survey practice, are discussed in this dissertation.

Linguistic Field(s): Cognitive Science

Written In: English (eng)

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