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General and Specific Question Sequence Effects in Satisfaction Surveys: Integrating Directional and Correlational Effects

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  • Seth Kaplan
  • Joseph Luchman

    ()

  • Landon Mock

Abstract

Researchers investigate relationships between well-being variables and the antecedents to well-being by examining statistical results from survey data. A common measurement approach in survey designs is to include measures of more specific aspects (i.e., facets) and more global assessments of well-being in the same survey. Research shows, however, that the sequence of specific and general measures within the survey affects the magnitude of relationships between specific and general measures. In the current study, we extend such general-specific sequence research by offering an alternative explanation for the occurrence of such sequence effects. Specifically, we propose that having the specific measure before the more general one can shift the mean-level of the specific measure toward the extremes, thereby yielding restricted variance and, ultimately, attenuated correlations between the two measures. We test our proposal on two separate samples examining job-related well-being. Our findings show that the general-specific measure relationship is stronger and the mean-level of satisfaction is lower when the general measure is read first. Our findings suggest important theoretical implications for the study and measurement of well-being. Most importantly, our study suggests that placing general measures before specific measures could avoid sequence-related bias. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Suggested Citation

  • Seth Kaplan & Joseph Luchman & Landon Mock, 2013. "General and Specific Question Sequence Effects in Satisfaction Surveys: Integrating Directional and Correlational Effects," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 14(5), pages 1443-1458, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:jhappi:v:14:y:2013:i:5:p:1443-1458
    DOI: 10.1007/s10902-012-9388-5
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Erik Cohen, 2000. "A Facet Theory Approach to Examining Overall and Life Facet Satisfaction Relationships," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 51(2), pages 223-237, August.
    2. Melanie Davern & Robert Cummins & Mark Stokes, 2007. "Subjective Wellbeing as an Affective-Cognitive Construct," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 8(4), pages 429-449, December.
    3. Ed Diener, 1994. "Assessing subjective well-being: Progress and opportunities," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 31(2), pages 103-157, February.
    4. Ambrose Leung & Cheryl Kier & Tak Fung & Linda Fung & Robert Sproule, 2011. "Searching for Happiness: The Importance of Social Capital," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 12(3), pages 443-462, June.
    5. Grant Duncan, 2010. "Should Happiness-Maximization be the Goal of Government?," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 11(2), pages 163-178, April.
    6. Rati Ram, 2010. "Social Capital and Happiness: Additional Cross-Country Evidence," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 11(4), pages 409-418, August.
    7. Marisa Salanova & Arnold Bakker & Susana Llorens, 2006. "Flow at Work: Evidence for an Upward Spiral of Personal and Organizational Resources," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 7(1), pages 1-22, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bogdan Voicu, 2015. "Priming Effects in Measuring Life Satisfaction," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 124(3), pages 993-1013, December.
    2. repec:spr:qualqt:v:52:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s11135-017-0515-6 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. repec:spr:jhappi:v:19:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s10902-016-9822-1 is not listed on IDEAS

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