ERIC Number: ED204939
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1981-Mar
Reference Count: 0
Response Bias in Answers Given by Normal and Retarded Children.
Sigelman, Carol; And Others
Acquiescence, the tendency to respond affirmatively regardless of the content of a question, was examined in 57 mentally retarded children (11 to 17 years old) and 91 nonretarded children (3 to 8 years old). Embedded within the standard interview schedule for both samples were two pairs of oppositely worded questions on the same topic. Acquiescence was defined as answering yes to both questions in a pair, thus contradicting oneself. In direct comparisons of retarded and normal children at three average mental age levels (4.9, 7.0, and 9.4), acquiescence was found to decline markedly and steadily among normal children with increasing mental age, but the trend in the mentally retarded sample was considerably weaker. As a result, while normal and retarded children displayed similarly high rates of acquiescence at the lowest mental age level, acquiescence was more common among retarded than among normal children at the higher mental age levels. Additional data on acquiescence among normal children further confirmed the negative relationship between acquiescence and age. Speculations about the origins of acquiescence and its persistence among mentally retarded children at higher mental ages center on cognitive and linguistic immaturity, and reinforcement contingencies that selectively strengthen "yes" answers over "no" answers. Finally, since acquiescence invalidates answers given by both young normal children and mentally retarded persons, it is recommended that yes-no questions be avoided with these groups in research and clinical practice and that attention be given to developing alternative questioning strategies which minimize systematic response biases. (Author)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Meeting of the Southeastern Psychological Association (Atlanta, GA, March 26, 1981).