Nathan Bowling (Committee Chair), Gary Burns (Committee Member), David LaHuis (Committee Member)
Master of Science (MS)
Careless responding (CR), also called insufficient effort responding (IER), occurs when survey participants respond to items without regard to item content. The presence of careless responding threatens the validity of inferences made from self-report data (Huang et al., 2012; Huang et al., 2015). This study examines the effects of two proposed causes of careless responding (Mead & Craig, 2012): questionnaire length and participant disinterest. Specifically, I hypothesized that (a) questionnaire length is positively related to careless responding, (b) participant interest is negatively related to careless responding, and (c) questionnaire length has a weaker relationship with careless responding among participants who are interested in the questionnaire content than among participants who are uninterested in the questionnaire content. Analyses using a sample of 316 undergraduate students, who were randomly assigned to either a long survey or short survey condition, provided partial support for the three hypotheses tested. I found significant mean differences (d = 0.29 to 0.42) in careless responding that indicated a lower prevalence of careless responding in the short survey condition than the long survey condition. I found significant negative correlations (r = -.12 to -.21) indicating that interest has a negative relationship with careless responding. Additionally, interest moderated the relationship between questionnaire length and careless responding such that participants with low interest in the long survey condition display significantly more careless responding as measured by the infrequency scale than those in the short survey condition. These findings have important theoretical and practical implications for researchers and practitioners that use self-report surveys.
Department or Program
Department of Psychology
Year Degree Awarded
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