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Question order within a subjective well-being module

The issue

Order effects may also be an important consideration for question order within a module or cluster of subjective well-being questions. For example, asking a set of positive affect questions might prime positive emotions that could influence subsequent answers to life evaluation, eudaimonia or negative affect questions. Similarly, a drive for consistency may mean that respondents who report positive life evaluations overall might then feel that subsequent eudaimonia questions should also be answered positively.

Order effects can also have implications for the overall number of subjective well-being questions that should be included. Strack, Schwartz and Wanke (1991) have discussed the potential importance of the conversational principle of non-redundancy - i.e. that partners in a normal conversation will tend to avoid asking the same question, or providing the same information, more than once. Thus, if someone asks a question similar to one asked only moments earlier, respondents might assume that different information is required, creating contrast effects. This could lead to correlations among a set of subjective well-being questions being artificially suppressed if respondents assume that each question must require a different response.

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