Question context and priming meaning of health: Effect on differences in self-rated health between Hispanics and Non-Hispanic Whites (Lee & Schwarz, 2013)

Objectives. We examined the implications of the current recommended data collection practice of placing self-rated health (SRH) before specific healthrelated questions (hence, without a health context) to remove potential context effects, between Hispanics and non-Hispanics. Methods. We used 2 methodologically comparable surveys conducted in English and Spanish that asked SRH in different contexts: before and after specific health questions. Focusing on the elderly, we compared the influence of question contexts on SRH between Hispanics and non-Hispanics and between Spanish and English speakers. Results. The question context influenced SRH reports of Spanish speakers (and Hispanics) significantly but not of English speakers (and non-Hispanics). Specifically, on SRH within a health context, Hispanics reported more positive health, decreasing the gap with non-Hispanic Whites by two thirds, and the measurement utility of SRH was improved through more consistent mortality prediction across ethnic and linguistic groups. Conclusions. Contrary to the current recommendation, asking SRH within a health context enhanced measurement utility. Studies using SRH may result in erroneous conclusions when one does not consider its question context. Citation. Lee, S., & Schwarz, N. (in press). Priming meaning of health decreases differences in self-rated health between Hispanics and Non-Hispanic Whites by two thirds: A role of question context effects. American Journal of Public Health. — DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.2012.301055


Why researchers should think “real-time” — a cognitive rationale (Schwarz, 2012)

This chapter reviews issues involved in self-reports of behaviors, feelings, and attitudes and highlights the advantages of real-time measurement in situ. — M. R. Mehl & T. S. Conner (eds.)(2012), Handbook of Research Methods for Studying Daily Life (pp. 22-42). New York: Guilford


“Global warming” or “climate change”? Whether the planet is warming depends on question wording (Schuldt, Konrath, & Schwarz, 2011)

In public discourse and survey research, global climate change is sometimes referred to as “global warming” and sometimes as “climate change.” An analysis of web sites of conservative and liberal think tanks suggests that conservatives prefer to use the term “global warming” whereas liberals prefer “climate change.” A question wording experiment in the American Life Panel (N = 2267) illustrates the power of these frames: Republicans were less likely to endorse that the phenomenon is real when it was referred to as “global warming” (44.0%) rather than “climate change” (60.2%), whereas Democrats were unaffected by question wording (86.9% vs. 86.4%). As a result, the partisan divide on the issue dropped from 42.9 percentage points under a “global warming” frame to 26.2 percentage points under a “climate change” frame. Theoretical and methodological implications are discussed. — Schuldt, J., Konrath, S., & Schwarz, N. (2011). “Global warming” or “climate change”? Whether the planet is warming depends on question wording. Public Opinion Quarterly.


Cognition, communication, and culture: Implications for survey response (Schwarz, Oyserman, & Peytcheva, 2010)

This chapter reviews cultural differences in cognition and communication and their implications for self-report. — Schwarz, N., Oyserman, D., & Peytcheva, E. (2010). Cognition, communication, and culture: Implications for the survey response process. In J. A. Harkness, M. Braun, B. Edwards, T.P. Johnson, L. Lyberg, P. Ph. Mohler, B.E. Pennell, & T.W. Smith (eds.), Survey methods in multinational, multiregional and multicultural contexts (pp. 177-190). New York: Wiley.


Panel, “How do you know if people are lying on a survey?” (Video)

Video of a January 2009 panel at the Survey Research Center of Cornell University. Participants: Stephen Ceci, Kathleen Frankovic, Norbert Schwarz.


Retrospective and concurrent self-reports (Schwarz, 2007)

A review of the cognitive and communicative processes underlying retrospective and concurrent self-reports in health research. — Schwarz, N. (2007). Retrospective and concurrent self-reports: The rationale for real-time data capture. In A. A. Stone, S. S. Shiffman, A. Atienza, & L. Nebeling (Eds.), The science of real-time data capture: Self-reports in health research (pp. 11-26). New York: Oxford University Press.


Question order effects decrease with age (Knäuper et al., 2007)

Secondary analyses of survey data and two laboratory experiments demonstrate that question order effects decrease with respondents’ increasing age. Presumably, the content of preceding questions is less likely to remain accessible for older respondents, thus attenuating or eliminating their impact on answers to subsequent questions. Supporting this assumption, question order effects were obtained for older respondents with high working memory, but not for older respondents with low working memory. This age-sensitivity of question order effects can compromise comparisons across age groups, even to the extent of reversing the ordinal placement of cohorts along the attitude dimension. Theoretical and methodological implications are discussed. — Knäuper, B., Schwarz, N., Park, D.C., & Fritsch, A. (2007). The perils of interpreting age differences in attitude reports: Question order effects decrease with age. Journal of Official Statistics, 23, 515-528.


Asking questions: measurement in the social sciences (Strack & Schwarz, 2007)

This chapter provides a Gricean perspective on measurement by asking questions. The link connects to the online edition of the full book. — Strack, F., & Schwarz, N. (2007). Asking questions: Measurement in the social sciences. In M. Ash & T. Sturm (eds.), Psychology’s territories: Historical and contemporary perspectives from different disciplines (pp. 225-250). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.


Why are you calling me? How study introductions change response patterns (Smith et al., 2006)

Explores the influence of survey introductions on respondents’ answers and documents that the effect of thematic introductions parallels the effects of preceding questions. — Smith, D. M., Schwarz, N., Roberts, T. R., & Ubel, P.A. (2006). Why are you calling me? How study introductions change response patterns. Quality of Life Research, 15, 621-630.


Self-reports across cohorts and cultures (Schwarz, 2003)

The processes underlying self-reports change as function of age-related and culture-related differences in cognition and behavior. This piece summarizes key findings. — Schwarz, N. (2003). Self-reports in consumer research: The challenge of comparing cohorts and cultures. Journal of Consumer Research, 29, 588-594.


Asking questions about behavior (Schwarz & Oyserman, 2001)

A review of how respondents arrive at behavioral reports, with implications for questionnaire construction. — Schwarz, N. & Oyserman, D. (2001). Asking questions about behavior: Cognition, communication and questionnaire construction. American Journal of Evaluation, 22, 127-160.


Reports of well-being (Schwarz & Strack, 1990)

A review of context effects in reports of well-being and their conceptual and methodological implications. — Schwarz, N., & Strack, F. (1999). Reports of subjective well-being: Judgmental processes and their methodological implications. In D. Kahneman, E. Diener, & N. Schwarz (Eds.), Well-being: The foundations of hedonic psychology (pp. 61-84). New York: Russell-Sage.


Self-reports: How the questions shape the answers (Schwarz, 1999)

A review of the cognitive and communicative processes underlying self-reports of attitudes and behaviors. — Schwarz, N. (1999). Self-reports: How the questions shape the answers. American Psychologist, 54, 93-105.