Reporting on One’s Behaviour: a survey experiment on the non-validity of self-reported COVID-19 hygiene relevant routine behaviours

Pelle Guldborg Hansen, Erik Gahner Larsen, Caroline Drøgemüller Gundersen

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Surveys based on self-reported hygiene relevant routine behaviours have played a crucial role in policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. In this article, using anchoring to test validity in a randomised controlled survey experiment during the COVID-19 pandemic, we demonstrate that asking people to self-report on the frequency of routine behaviours are prone to significant measurement error and systematic bias. Specifically, we find that participants across age, gender and political allegiance report higher (lower) frequencies of COVID-19 relevant behaviours when provided with a higher (lower) anchor. The results confirm that such self-reports should not be regarded as behavioural data and should primarily be used to inform policy decisions if better alternatives are not available. To this end, we discuss the use of anchoring as a validity test relative to self-reported behaviours as well as viable alternatives to self-reports when seeking to behaviourally inform policy decisions.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBehavioural Public Policy
ISSN2398-063X
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 10 Mar 2021

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • Behavioural Public Policy
  • survey questionnaires
  • Methodology

Cite this