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The informative functions of research procedures : bias and the logic of conversation

Die informativen Funktionen von Forschungsverfahren : Voreingenommenheit und die Logik der Konversation
[working paper]

Bless, Herbert; Strack, Fritz; Schwarz, Norbert

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Corporate Editor Zentrum für Umfragen, Methoden und Analysen -ZUMA-
Abstract Bei wissenschaftlichen Experimenten werden die Regeln der alltäglichen Kommunikation angewandt. Die Beiträge zur Kommunikation sollten informativ, relevant, wahr und eindeutig sein. Von den am Experiment beteiligten Personen wird erwartet, daß sie sich darauf verlassen. Da diese Regeln von den Experimenteuren nicht immer eingehalten werden, kann es leicht zu Mißverständnissen kommen. Zudem lassen standardisierte Experimente keine Rückkopplung zu. Informationen, die sich aus dem Zusammenhang ergeben, sind oft vom Experimenteur nicht beabsichtigt. Im Ergebnis liefert ein Experiment ungünstig beeinflußte Ergebnisse. (psz)

'Conversational rules of everyday communication are applied to the interaction between experimenters and subjects. According to these rules, contributions to a communication should be informative, relevant, true, and unambiguous. It is assumed that subjects determine the pragmatic meaning of instructions and questions on the basis of these rules and the provided context. In contrast to most natural settings, standardized experimental procedures rarely allow for an interactive determination of pragmatic meaning and often preclude feedback as a corrective device. As a consequence, subjects are required to rely heavily on general rules, and even subtle cues may become informationally loaded. The information extracted from context cues may often not be intended by the experimenter. Thus subjects may infer more than they are supposed to, resulting in discrepancies between the experimenter's intended and subjects' inferred meaning of the instructions. If researchers are not sensitive to the information provided by verbal and non-verbal context cues, their interpretation of research results may be based on biased data. Evidence from different research domains is reported to support the presented assumptions and their implications for bias avoiding strategies are discussed.' (author's abstract)
Keywords survey; expectation; experiment; research; interview; communication; process; regulation; prejudice
Classification Research Design; Sociology of Communication, Sociology of Language, Sociolinguistics
Method basic research; epistemological
Document language English
Publication Year 1992
City Mannheim
Page/Pages 33 p.
Series ZUMA-Arbeitsbericht, 1992/11
Status Published Version; reviewed
Licence Deposit Licence - No Redistribution, No Modifications