Response scales as frames of reference: the impact of frequency range on diagnostic judgements

Schwarz N, Bless H, Bohner G, Harlacher U, Kellenbenz M (1991)
Applied Cognitive Psychology 5(1): 37-49.

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Journal Article | Published | German
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Abstract
In social and psychological research, respondents are often asked to report the frequency of a behaviour by checking the appropriate alternative from a list of response categories provided to them. Previous research indicated that respondents extract comparison information from the range of the response alternatives, assuming that the average respondent is represented by values in the middle range of the scale, and that the extremes of the scale represent the extremes of the distribution. Extending this line of research, the present studies demonstrate that the users of a respondent's report are also likely to use the range of the response alternatives as a frame of reference in evaluating the implications of the report. Specifically, subjects are found to draw different conclusions about the respondent's personality (Experiment l ), or the severity of his or her medical condition (Experiment 21, from the same absolute frequency report, depending upon the range of the response scale on which the frequency was checked. Moreover, experienced medical doctors were as likely to be influenced by scale range as first-year medical students, suggesting that the phenomenon is of considerable applied importance. Implications for the use of response alternatives in psychological research and diagnostic judgement are discussed.
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Schwarz N, Bless H, Bohner G, Harlacher U, Kellenbenz M. Response scales as frames of reference: the impact of frequency range on diagnostic judgements. Applied Cognitive Psychology. 1991;5(1):37-49.
Schwarz, N., Bless, H., Bohner, G., Harlacher, U., & Kellenbenz, M. (1991). Response scales as frames of reference: the impact of frequency range on diagnostic judgements. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 5(1), 37-49.
Schwarz, N., Bless, H., Bohner, G., Harlacher, U., and Kellenbenz, M. (1991). Response scales as frames of reference: the impact of frequency range on diagnostic judgements. Applied Cognitive Psychology 5, 37-49.
Schwarz, N., et al., 1991. Response scales as frames of reference: the impact of frequency range on diagnostic judgements. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 5(1), p 37-49.
N. Schwarz, et al., “Response scales as frames of reference: the impact of frequency range on diagnostic judgements”, Applied Cognitive Psychology, vol. 5, 1991, pp. 37-49.
Schwarz, N., Bless, H., Bohner, G., Harlacher, U., Kellenbenz, M.: Response scales as frames of reference: the impact of frequency range on diagnostic judgements. Applied Cognitive Psychology. 5, 37-49 (1991).
Schwarz, Norbert, Bless, Herbert, Bohner, Gerd, Harlacher, Uwe, and Kellenbenz, Margit. “Response scales as frames of reference: the impact of frequency range on diagnostic judgements”. Applied Cognitive Psychology 5.1 (1991): 37-49.
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