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Title: Counterbiasing methods for asking sensitive questions : the effects of type of referent and frequency wording
Authors: Raghubir, Priya
Menon, Geeta
Keywords: Sensitive questions
Counterbiasing information
Questionnaire design
Respondents' behavior
Issue Date: Mar-1995
Series/Report no.: Marketing Working Paper Series ; MKTG 95.034
Abstract: Respondents typically underreport socially undersirable behaviors and overreport socially desirable behaviors due to a social desirability bias. In this paper, we investigate the effects of providing counterbiasing information on reducing this social desirability bias. In study 1, we investigate whether information that a socially desirable behavior is performed less frequently than expected reduces the extent of overreporting. In Study 2, alternative methods of presenting information about the target behavior are studied. We demonstrate that counterbiasing information is more effective when the referent is a population base-rate vs. an individual, and is moderated by the wording of the frequency, such that the counterbiasing information is more effective when the frequency is worded as an actual number versus a percent. Implications for questionnaire design are discussed.
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