When questions change behavior: the role of ease of representation.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

In three experiments, we examined the mere-measurement effect, wherein simply asking people about their intent to engage in a certain behavior increases the probability of their subsequently engaging in that behavior. The experiments demonstrate that manipulations that should affect the ease of mentally representing or simulating the behavior in question influence the extent of the mere-measurement phenomenon. Participants who were asked about their intention to engage in various behaviors were more likely to engage in those behaviors than participants not asked about their intentions in situations in which mentally simulating the behavior in the intention question was relatively easy. We tested this ease-of-representation hypothesis using both socially desirable and socially undesirable behaviors, and our dependent variables comprised both self-reports and actual behaviors. Our findings have implications for survey research in various social contexts, including assessments of risky behaviors by public health organizations.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Levav, J; Fitzsimons, GJ

Published Date

  • March 2006

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 17 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 207 - 213

PubMed ID

  • 16507060

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1467-9280

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0956-7976

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2006.01687.x


  • eng