Self-reports of behaviors and opinions: Cognitive and communicative processes

Social scientist have long been aware that minor changes in question wording, question format, or question order may profoundly affect the answers that research participants provide. In the survey literature, these influences of the research instrument are usually referred to as response effects or context effects. Researchers have made considerable progress in understanding the cognitive and communicative processes underlying the emergence of context effects, and this chapter provides an introduction to what has been learned. It draws on the collaborative work of cognitive psychologists, social psychologists, and survey methodologists. (from the chapter); In the present chapter, I review key lessons from this interdisciplinary research. This work has rarely addressed age-related differences in cognition and communication. As a first step toward this goal, this chapter reviews the cognitive and communicative processes underlying self-reports to set the stage for the more detailed treatment of age-related changes in component processes. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2007 APA, all rights reserved)