Word Association Tests for Political Science

36 Pages Posted: 5 Nov 2020

See all articles by Ze Han

Ze Han

Princeton University - Department of Politics

Rory Truex

Princeton University - Department of Political Science

Date Written: September 29, 2020

Abstract

The standard practice to measuring political attitudes is to ask survey respondents to map their feelings onto a quantitative scale determined by the researcher. This approach, while widespread, suffers from a number of well-known problems. Such questions can be cognitively demanding, scales are different across cultures and even individuals of the same culture, and complex attitudes are reduced to a single number. In this paper, we advance the use of Word Association Tests (WATs), where respondents are presented a series of cue words and asked to provide other words that come to mind as quickly as possible. This approach more directly maps to how attitudes actually operate in the human mind, and it provides a richer set of data than a standard survey question. The paper develops and demonstrates the utility of WATs through an analysis of Chinese citizens’ attitudes towards the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Keywords: survey; public opinion; sensitive questions; Word Association Test; China; Chinese Communist Party

Suggested Citation

Han, Ze and Truex, Rory, Word Association Tests for Political Science (September 29, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3701860 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3701860

Ze Han

Princeton University - Department of Politics ( email )

Princeton, NJ
United States

Rory Truex (Contact Author)

Princeton University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Corwin Hall
Princeton, NJ 08544-1012
United States

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