Order of elicited responses on a questionnaire as a measure of topic salience
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Two studies among US college students (N1 = 88; N2 = 329) were conducted to examine the relationship between the order in which responses are offered on a questionnaire and the ranked importance of those responses. In both studies it was found that approximately one third (32%; 31%) of the listed attributes were ranked in the order of mention. Expanding the criteria to include adjacent categories raised the overlap to about two thirds (64%; 65%). The findings gained in both studies were independent of gender. In addition, in Study II topic importance/involvement among the respondents was measured; the results indicated it was not a factor in this trend. The factor which did influence the order of mention and rankings was the number of categories used by the respondents. When more than 7 categories were used, the stability of mention and rankings tended to become erratic.