Answering the Unasked Question: Response Substitution in Consumer Surveys

Gal, David; Rucker, Derek D
February 2011
Journal of Marketing Research (JMR);Feb2011, Vol. 48 Issue 1, p185
Academic Journal
Researchers and practitioners alike frequently survey consumers to gain insights into their attitudes, preferences, and beliefs. The authors propose a potentially pervasive, but as of yet unidentified, source of bias in survey responding. Specifically, they propose that respondents' answers to questions might sometimes reflect attitudes that respondents want to convey but that the researcher has not asked about, a phenomenon termed 'response substitution.' The authors examine this proposition in a series of three experiments that demonstrate the phenomenon, provide support for the process account, and identify boundary conditions. They also discuss general theoretical, methodological, and practical implications as well as specific implications for research on attitudes and contingent valuation.


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