Answering the unasked question: Response substitution in consumer surveys

David Gal*, Derek D. Rucker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Researchers and practitioners alike frequently survey consumers to gain insights into their attitudes, preferences, and beliefs. The authors propose a potentially pervasive, but as of yet unidentified, source of bias in survey responding. Specifically, they propose that respondents' answers to questions might sometimes reflect attitudes that respondents want to convey but that the researcher has not asked about, a phenomenon termed "response substitution." The authors examine this proposition in a series of three experiments that demonstrate the phenomenon, provide support for the process account, and identify boundary conditions. They also discuss general theoretical, methodological, and practical implications as well as specific implications for research on attitudes and contingent valuation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)185-195
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Marketing Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2011


  • Attitudes
  • Contingent valuation
  • Response substitution
  • Self-expression
  • Survey bias

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Marketing

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Answering the unasked question: Response substitution in consumer surveys'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this