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April 18, 2012 10:22 AM Do People Cheat During On-Line Surveys?

By John Sides

Of the 505 people who completed the survey on a computer, only 2 people cheated by looking the answers up on-line.  That’s less than one-half of one percent of the respondents.  This hardly qualifies as an alarming finding.  Or as reason for “word” to spread of cheating on political surveys.  Plenty of people had a hard time answering our fact-based questions, and they knew they were on the Internet, yet very few of them took the time to look up the answers—- in fact, almost none of them.  And, one of the respondents who did look up the VPs name felt so badly about doing so, he came out and told us he cheated.

Lynn Vavreck, writing at Model Politics.  More here.

Why don’t more people cheat?  Part of the explanation, I think, is that people typically don’t want to spend a lot of time answering a poll, even on-line.  (We’ve all taken these polls.  The impulse to click quickly through questions is pretty strong.)  Because of this, they “satisfice” in various ways.  Which means they don’t take the time to look up answers to factual questions on Wikipedia or wherever.

[Cross-posted at The Monkey Cage]

John Sides is an associate professor of political science at George Washington University.
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