Res Publica


De vraagstelling in volksraadplegingen en referenda

Auteurs Jaak Billiet

Jaak Billiet
  • Samenvatting

      In the domain of survey research, it is well known and documented that the structure, wording, and context of questions may affect the distributions of the responses to choice questions. Surprisingly, the application of the knowledge about these effects is not often made in the domain of referendums. Only few studies deal with the effects of question characteristics in referendums, although in the field, there are many discussions about the results obtained by problematic questions. In this study, a number of wording effects that can be expected in referendums are discussed in the context of the actual state of theory and knowledge in the research on question wording effects in surveys. Some are well known and others are new, but also very relevant. The expected problems deal with: the choice between real alternatives; the decision about the majority in the case of multiple choice questions; the ambiguity in the choice between "yes" and "no"; the bidden response scale behind "yes-no" questions and the selection of the of verbs or qualifiers; the use of"double barrelled questions"; the suggestive wordings in the question text or in the introduction; the context of the questions when several questions are asked response sets. The importance and seriousness of each ofthese effects is evaluated, and reflections are made on the quality of the questions in referendums. Consequently suggestions are made about the kind of questions that can be used in referendums.

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