On possibilities and limitations of using self-anchoring scales in web surveys

F. Van Acker*, P. Theuns

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    1 Citation (Web of Science)


    Self-anchoring scales were first mentioned by Kilpatrick and Cantril (J Indiv Psychol 16:158–170, 1960) and Cantril (The pattern of human concerns, 1965) as rating instruments in which the end anchors are defined by the respondent himself, basing on his own assumptions, perceptions, goals and values. The uses of these scales are legion and they have shown to be very useful in reducing measurement bias in cross-cultural research (Cantril, The pattern of human concerns, 1965; Bernheim et al. J. Happiness Stud. 7:227–250, 2006). The first part of the current study investigates whether context effects can be lessened or eliminated by using self-anchoring scales. For this purpose, an experiment similar to the ones by Couper et al. (Public Opin Q 71:623–634, 2004, Public Opin Q 68:255–266, 2007), in which they manipulated images that figured in a web survey, was conducted. The hypothesis that self-anchoring scales can reduce contextual bias, is not supported by our data. The second part of the study investigates if and how self-anchoring scales affect drop-out during the filling-out of questionnaires. It is found that, compared to a regular rating scale, a larger proportion of respondents drop-out. Moreover, subjective preferences for the one or the other scale do not seem to differ.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1129-1137
    Number of pages9
    JournalQuality & Quantity
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2010


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