Dictionary of Polling: The Language of Contemporary Opinion Research

By Michael L. Young | Go to book overview
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Y

YEASAYER A respondent who habitually answers questions with "yes" or in the affirmative--regardless of the question asked or their real feelings. Some yeasayers are motivated by hostility or indifference. They simply want to get the interview over quickly. But other yeasayers are so deferential that they try to please interviewers by being agreeable. They may, for example, respond to a series of "agree/disagree" questions by agreeing with all of them, even if some contradict others ( Alreck and Settle, 1985:423).

Naysayers, in contrast, are respondents who constantly answer questions in the negative. Of the two, researchers have been more concerned with yeasayers and their effects. Some studies show that the "social distance" between interviewer and respondent increases yeasaying. It is particularly more common among those with less formal education, and is more frequent among blacks than whites. Researchers consider yeasaying as a form of social desirability bias-- defined as any psychological influence that encourages respondents to answer questions consistent with social expectations ( Bradburn, 1983:316-318). Interviewer reactivity is responsible for most yea saying, so attention to interview dynamics is emphasized in its prevention ( Turner and Martin, 1984:267). See alsoAGREE-DISAGREE; INTERVIEWERS; INTERVIEWING; RESPONDENT.

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