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Response style in the political survey

Engle, Pär Jason, dissertant

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  • Creator by Pär Jason Engle
  • Format Books
  • Publication Ann Arbor, MI : ProQuest LLC, 2016.
  • Physical Details
    • iii, 280 leaves : illustrations (some color) ; 29 cm
  • OCLC ocn945087466


  • This dissertation examines the rudimentary how and why of response style for political surveys. It examines bias, and explores some possibilities these styles have for expanded political research. Through habitual response style, I look at the way respondents approach surveys independent of content, that is, how respondents choose endpoints or acquiesce to the valence of a survey question independently of the object of measure. I first establish that response style exists and provide some baseline characteristics. This thesis looks at response style through the lens of only Extreme Response (ERS) which is the most robust measure of response style and arguably one of the most influential. I experimentally validate the phenomenon, delineating a potential measurement solution and inspecting extremity as a political value. I examine ERS and its impacts with regards to political extremity and provide an avenue and reasoning toward approaching corrective action by case omission or weighting. Next, I extend the knowledge of response style to specific political content. Where engagement and knowledge of content are at issue, how might we interpret higher levels of response style by content? The conclusion here contends that "yes, response style can tell us how respondents evaluate issues and political objects." As a corollary, we might know how engaged survey respondents are on issues, and measure by response pattern, what the degree of knowledge of a respondent is on issues, and whether or not they are cognitively active on them. I explore whether we know or care enough to think critically about content, or whether we are relying on a "backstop" of a default, extreme or acquiescent answer. I continue on the theme of response style to look at acquiescent response (ARS) in terms of confidence in political institutions, and finally, I look at response style through the lens of what might be called moderation, along with ideological content fidelity measures, as an outcome in formative civic engagement and in a specific case of contemporary religious groups.


  • Advisor: Byron Shafer.
  • Ph.D. University of Wisconsin--Madison 2016.
  • Includes bibliographical references (leaves 271-280).