Institut for Statskundskab

Priming and Context Effects in Citizen Satisfaction Surveys

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Citizen satisfaction surveys are used extensively throughout the public sector to assess the performance of public services and to inform decision-makers. Recent research points to cognitive biases that may occur in citizens’ perceptions of performance of public services, but we know little about possible biases in the collection of these data. This shortcoming is addressed by investigating the priming and context effects that can arise from the structure of
citizen surveys—for example from the question order in the survey. Two independent experimental studies find that prior positively framed questions about police services affect subsequent satisfaction evaluations of other local public services. However, an informational prime about crime and unrelated questions about family-life satisfaction have little effect on the subsequent satisfaction evaluations. The results show that citizen evaluations of public
services can be influenced by irrelevant context effects, but this may depend on the topics of prior questions.
TidsskriftPublic Administration
Sider (fra-til)912-926
Antal sider15
StatusUdgivet - 2017


  • Citizen satisfaction, Context effects, Priming

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