Answering the Unasked Question: Response Substitution in Consumer Surveys
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.
Gal, David and Derek D Rucker. 2011. Answering the Unasked Question: Response Substitution in Consumer Surveys. Journal of Marketing Research. 48(1): 185-195.