Are Survey Respondents Lying About their Support for Same-Sex Marriage? Lessons from A Recent List Experiment

28 Pages Posted: 3 Sep 2014

See all articles by Jeffrey R. Lax

Jeffrey R. Lax

Columbia University - Department of Political Science

Justin Phillips

Columbia University - Department of Political Science

Alissa Stollwerk

Columbia University - Department of Political Science

Date Written: 2014

Abstract

Public opinion polls consistently show that a growing majority of Americans support same-sex marriage. Critics, however, raise the possibility that these polls are plagued by social desirability bias, and thereby may overstate public support for gay and lesbian rights. We test this proposition using a list experiment embedded in the 2013 Cooperative Congressional Election Study. List experiments afford respondents an anonymity that allows them to provide more truthful answer potentially sensitive survey items. Our experiment finds no evidence that social desirability is affecting overall survey results. Indeed, our efforts provide new evidence that a national opinion majority favors same-sex marriage. To evaluate the robustness of our findings, we analyze a second list experiment, this one focusing on the inclusion of sexual orientation in employment nondiscrimination laws. Again we find no overall evidence of bias.

Suggested Citation

Lax, Jeffrey R. and Phillips, Justin and Stollwerk, Alissa, Are Survey Respondents Lying About their Support for Same-Sex Marriage? Lessons from A Recent List Experiment (2014). APSA 2014 Annual Meeting Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2452175

Jeffrey R. Lax

Columbia University - Department of Political Science ( email )

MC3320
420 West 118th Street
New York, NY 10027
United States

Justin Phillips (Contact Author)

Columbia University - Department of Political Science ( email )

7th Floor, International Affairs Bldg.
420 W. 118th Street
New York, NY 10027
United States

Alissa Stollwerk

Columbia University - Department of Political Science ( email )

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