The Effect of Question Format: A Study in Political Knowledge
By analyzing data from two cross-sectional telephone interviews, this article aims to examine the effect of question format on measurement of political knowledge in Taiwan. It first tackles the response differences among open-ended and closed-ended questions by grouping in terms of question topic. It then further studies the factors that play a role in influencing an individual's political knowledge. The findings suggest that question format significantly affects individuals' responses. Answering the same question wording but in different question formats, the respondents obtained higher scores on closed-ended than open-ended questions. Knowledge questions on the topic of politicians had a higher difference, while the knowledge questions on policies displayed a narrower gap. Secondly and unsurprisingly, variables such as the level of education, media exposure, and age played important roles in one's level of political knowledge. Thirdly, those who paid more attention to election news through the media of television and internet performed better with open-ended questions. This finding illustrates that media exposure positively facilitated political knowledge. Lastly, a further study was done by examining the interaction effects between question format and gender. Different question for mats highlight the gender gap. Closed-ended questions narrowed the knowledge gap between males and females, whereas, to some extent, a larger knowledge gap was found in open-ended questions. Question format indeed yields response effects.