Does the Order of Victimization Questions Affect Survey Responses?: A Randomized Experimental Study

Laura Wyckoff, University of Maryland at College Park
Sue-Ming Yang, University of Maryland at College Park
Qianwei Fu, University of Maryland at College Park
Dawn-Marie Campos, University of Maryland at College Park
Shaoli Lu, Columbia University
David L. Weisburd, Hebrew University/University of Maryland

Research has noted that negative feelings toward a specific occurrence have resulted in negative feelings toward general attitudes, pointing to a relationship between these two types of attitudes. However, there has been little research in the field of criminal justice on whether survey findings will differ if general or specific questions are posited first. Using a randomized experimental design, this research examines the effect of survey question order in the context of students' feelings of safety on the University of Maryland Campus. The survey asked questions specifically about respondents' personal experiences or their knowledge of victimization on campus and generally about whether they feel safe on campus. Sex was found to be significantly associated with attitudes toward campus safety. However, question order did not have a significant effect on the responses to the general questions.

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Updated 05/20/2006