Studies of Welfare Populations: Data Collection and Research Issues. Reducing Threat Through Question Wording

06/01/2002

Sudman and Bradburn (1982) provide a checklist of question approaches to minimize threat from sensitive questions. Among the suggestions made by the authors are the use of open questions as opposed to closed questions (so as to not reveal extreme response categories), the use of longer questions so as to provide context and indicate that the subject is not taboo, the use of alternative terminology (e.g., street language for illicit drugs), and embedding the topic in a list of more threatening topics to reduce perceived threat, because threat or sensitivity is determined in part by the context.

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