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Encyclopedia Entry

List-Experiment Technique

Paul J. Lavrakas

The list-experiment technique is a survey measurement technique that uses an experimental design to measure a sensitive topic in a way that circumvents much of the questionnaire-related and respondent-related measurement errors that may result from using other methods due to the biasing effects of social desirability and privacy concerns. For example, in 2007, a study using the list-experiment technique reported that more than one fourth of Americans (26%) would be "upset or angry" if the country were to elect a female president. This percentage was much higher than what had been reported previously about the magnitude of this concern from surveys that used more standard (nonexperimental) measurement techniques. In its simplest form, the list-experiment randomly assigns a sample of respondents to one of two groups: a control group and a treatment group. The control group is exposed to a questionnaire version in which they are asked to consider a list ...

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