During the POLPAN Seminar on March 2nd, 2021, Professor Artur Pokropek (Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences /IFiS PAN/, Educational Research Institute /Warsaw, Poland/), Dr. Marek Muszyński (IFiS PAN), and Dr. Tomasz Żółtak (IFiS PAN) presented a paper entitled ‘Understanding response styles in self-report data: consequences, remedies and sources.’
Noncognitive constructs such as personality traits, attitudes, interests and reported behaviour are of great interest in every area of the social sciences (Paulhus & Vazire, 2007; Ziegler, 2015). They are predominantly measured using self-report standardized questionnaires that usually contain a predefined set of response options, one of the examples are rating scales (e.g. Likert-type) in which statements are judged based on response categories reflecting the agreement or disagreement intensity towards the statement. Such questions are one of the most popular types of questions in quantitative social sciences. This popularity of the self-report methods is due to their cost-efficiency, ease of administration and flexibility. However, the use of self-report does not come without problems. Assumptions that respondents use and interpret the given response categories in the same way (comparability assumption) and give unbiased and honest responses are not always held (Wetzel, Böhnke & Brown, 2016). The main reason for this are response biases, defined as “systematic tendency to answer questions on other basis than they content” (Paulhus, 1991). Response biases introduce a systematic source of error variance to the measurement, thus reducing its validity and comparability (Ziegler, 2015). One of the most studied response biases are the so-called response styles (RS), defined as “differential use of the response options, independent of the items’ content” (Wetzel et al., 2016). In our talk we will present the problem of RS and its most recent statistical solutions. We will also comment on the greatest challenges in handling RS in applied research situations. The talk will be concluded with a review of the research program to investigate consequences, remedies and sources of RS, that was just launched in the Institute of the Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences.