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The Impact of “No Opinion’ Response Options on Data Quality-Non Attitude Reduction or an Invitation

Krosnick, J.A., et al. 2002.  'The Impact of “No Opinion' Response Options on Data Quality-Non Attitude Reduction or an Invitation to Satisfice?” Public Opinion Quarterly 66: 371-403.


According to many seasoned survey researchers, offering a no-opinion option should reduce the pressure to give substantive responses felt by respondents who have no true opinions. By contrast, the survey satisficing perspective suggests that no-opinion options may discourage some respondents from doing the cognitive work necessary to report the true opinions they do have. We address these arguments using
data from nine experiments carried out in three household surveys. Attraction to no-opinion options was found to be greatest among respondents lowest in cognitive skills (as measured by educational attainment), among respondents answering secretly instead of orally, for questions asked later in a survey, and among respondents who devoted little effort to the reporting process. The quality of attitude reports obtained (as measured by over-time consistency and responsiveness to a question manipulation) was not compromised by the omission of noopinion options. These results suggest that inclusion of no-opinion options in attitude measures may not enhance data quality and instead may
preclude measurement of some meaningful opinions.

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