Bregje Holleman, born in Woerden, the Netherlands, in 1968. Ph.D. from Utrecht University. Associate Professor at the Department of Dutch (Applied Linguistics/Communication Studies), Utrecht University.
Fellow (1 September 2003 – 30 June 2004)
QUESTION WORDING AND THE PROCESS OF ANSWERING ATTITUDE QUESTIONS
I was part of the research theme group “Towards a new view on survey research”. The group’s goal was to develop a model for answering survey questions that could account for the effect superficial characteristics of the research context had on the answers obtained and for the considerable instability characterising answers to survey questions.
My contribution focused on the linguistic and cognitive aspects of question answering. I started a new research project on the use of reaction time data to study the cognitive processes of answering attitude questions. I investigated the processes of question answering underlying a wording effect in surveys. Do similar questions that are worded differently result in different answers because of the respondents’ different attitudes? Or is this because the respondents translate their judgments differently into the answering options? This research will result in several publications, and will most certainly be a research direction that I will continue to work on in the future.
I also used my time to read about the relation between accessibility (as measured by reaction times) and automaticity, and about the bipolarity of evaluations. Furthermore, I profited from many rewarding discussions among group members that also led to several unexpected new collaborations: two experiments conducted in Hungary this year, as well as the application of a memory model onto my reaction time data. All in all, my stay at NIAS provided me with an important opportunity to work on my research and to think of new research directions without the distractions of a heavy teaching load.