Journal of Official Statistics, Vol.5, No.3, 1989. pp. 253263

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Memory Bias and Response-order Effects

The order in which response categories are presented has often been found to influence respondents' answeres to survey questions. Recently, Krosnick and Alwin (1987) proposed that primacy and recency effects on verbally-presented response categories are due to biases in remembering the response categories and in generating reasons for choosing the categories. To test their model, four health questions were administered to respondents in a telephone survey. Contrary to the predictions derived from the model, presenting the response categories at a fast rather than a slow pace did not reduce the frequency with which the items presented first were selected. Collapsing across pace, only one of the questions showed a primacy effect and none showed a recency effect.

Response-order effects; cognition and surveys.

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