Do Random Response Questions Really Elicit Truthful Answers to Sensitive Questions? The Case of the Mississippi Personhood Initiative

8 Pages Posted: 30 Nov 2016

See all articles by Aart Kraay

Aart Kraay

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG)

Peter Murrell

University of Maryland - Department of Economics

Date Written: October 2016

Abstract

Random response questions have been used as a survey technique to elicit candid responses to sensitive questions for half a century, despite relatively little evidence as to their effectiveness in doing so. We reconsider surprising recent evidence that random response questions apparently were quite effective in eliciting candid retrospective responses about voting behaviour in a controversial ballot initiative in Mississippi. We argue that these findings likely are the result of a fortuitous respondent misunderstanding of an unorthodox formulation of a random response question that should not have encouraged candour had respondents understood its properties. Generalizable evidence on the effectiveness of random response questions remains elusive.

Keywords: reticence, random response questions, voting behavior, surveys

JEL Classification: C83, D72

Suggested Citation

Kraay, Aart and Murrell, Peter, Do Random Response Questions Really Elicit Truthful Answers to Sensitive Questions? The Case of the Mississippi Personhood Initiative (October 2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2876622 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2876622

Aart Kraay

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG) ( email )

1818 H. Street, N.W.
MSN3-311
Washington, DC 20433
United States
202-473-5756 (Phone)
202-522-3518 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://econ.worldbank.org/staff/akraay

Peter Murrell (Contact Author)

University of Maryland - Department of Economics ( email )

College Park, MD 20742
United States
301-405-3476 (Phone)
301-405-3542 (Fax)

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
30
Abstract Views
262
PlumX Metrics