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The Shirking Model – A Theory of How People Answer Survey Questions


VanBeselaere, Carla Emily (2004) The Shirking Model – A Theory of How People Answer Survey Questions. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/VZ6S-MM10.


This thesis explores survey responses in an attempt to uncover behavior that might indicate that respondents are not exerting sufficient effort to ensure reliable responses. By developing a rational choice theory about survey response behavior, new tests for examining how respondents behave when answering opinion questions are established. The first and most important problem addressed in this work is the identification of respondents who shirk by providing responses that are not fully thought-out. Assuming that shirking behavior is indicated by "no opinion" responses, this work explores the frequency and sources of this behavior. The results from this analysis provide useful recommendations for survey design. However, to further explore the implications of shirking behavior a new measure of shirking is proposed. This measure, based on survey response times, enables an examination of the implications of shirking behavior and proposes possible ways by which shirking behavior might be accounted for in the analysis of survey data. The results from this work suggest that if analysts want to ensure that accurate results drawn from survey data, consideration should be given to the likelihood that respondents shirk in answering survey questions.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:answers; behavior; question; response; shirking; survey
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Humanities and Social Sciences
Major Option:Social Science
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Alvarez, R. Michael
Thesis Committee:
  • Alvarez, R. Michael (co-chair)
  • Sherman, Robert P. (co-chair)
  • Kiewiet, D. Roderick
  • Grether, David M.
  • McCaffery, Edward J.
Defense Date:10 May 2004
Record Number:CaltechETD:etd-05282004-161831
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:2197
Deposited By: Imported from ETD-db
Deposited On:28 May 2004
Last Modified:04 Jun 2024 21:44

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