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Self-reported cheating in web surveys on political knowledge


  • Carsten Jensen


  • Jens Thomsen



Measuring citizens’ political knowledge is important for understanding public opinion formation. In view of the increasing popularity of Web surveys, this paper examines the limitations of this interviewing facility when measuring factual political knowledge. We show that Web surveys contain a source of measurement error as respondents can “Google” the correct answers. This cheating activity is our principal concern. Past efforts are extended by: (1) offering a self-reported estimate of the share of Googling cheaters, (2) showing that the positive effect of education on factual political knowledge is most probably underestimated when cheating occurs, and (3) showing that self-reported cheating activity is inversely related to actual response time. In the concluding section, we discuss the implications of these results and the extent to which cheating can be reduced. The empirical analyses are based on a Danish Web sample from 2012 (N $$=$$ = 1,509). Copyright Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Suggested Citation

  • Carsten Jensen & Jens Thomsen, 2014. "Self-reported cheating in web surveys on political knowledge," Quality & Quantity: International Journal of Methodology, Springer, vol. 48(6), pages 3343-3354, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:qualqt:v:48:y:2014:i:6:p:3343-3354
    DOI: 10.1007/s11135-013-9960-z

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. repec:cup:apsrev:v:95:y:2001:i:02:p:379-396_00 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Alvarez, R. Michael & Sherman, Robert P. & VanBeselaere, Carla, 2003. "Subject Acquisition for Web-Based Surveys," Political Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 11(01), pages 23-43, December.
    3. Mondak, Jeffery J., 1999. "Reconsidering the Measurement of Political Knowledge," Political Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 8(01), pages 57-82, January.
    4. Berrens, Robert P. & Bohara, Alok K. & Jenkins-Smith, Hank & Silva, Carol & Weimer, David L., 2003. "The Advent of Internet Surveys for Political Research: A Comparison of Telephone and Internet Samples," Political Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 11(01), pages 1-22, December.
    5. Claudia Biancotti, 2006. "A polarization of inequality? The distribution of national Gini coefficients 1970–1996," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 4(1), pages 1-32, April.
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