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Self-Selection and Misreporting in Legislative Surveys

  • Pirmin Bundi, Frédéric Varone, Roy Gava and Thomas Widmer

This article discusses the methodological challenges of legislative surveys. Following an overview of different types of survey biases, the article argues that self-selection and misreporting are the most critical problems for legislative surveys. In order to identify the self-selection and misreporting biases, we compare the answers with a survey from Swiss members of parliament with their observed behavior in the parliament. The empirical analysis shows that the survey sample has a substantial misreporting bias. We conclude that the parliamentarian’s attitude toward the survey object is strongly linked to their response. These issues should be addressed to improve the design and quality of legislative surveys.

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Pirmin Bundi, PhD Student, Department of Political Science, University of Zurich, Affolternstr. 56, 8050 Zurich ( Frédéric Varone, Professor, Department of Political Science and International Relations, University of Geneva, Bvd du Pont d’Arve 40, 1211 Geneva ( Roy Gava, Lecturer and Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Political Science and International Relations, University of Geneva, Bvd du Pont d’Arve 40, 1211 Geneva ( Thomas Widmer, Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Zurich, Affolternstr. 56, 8050 Zurich ( A previous version of this article was presented at the ESRA Conference 2015 in Reykjavik. The authors thank all the participants for their feedback. In addition, the authors would like to thank Thomas De Rocchi, Daniela Eberli, Kathrin Frey, Fabrizio Gilardi, Andreas C. Goldberg, Simon Hug, Simon Lanz, Augusta Prorok and Marco Steenbergen for their helpful comments. The authors are grateful to Kenneth Benoit and two anonymous reviewers for their valuable remarks and to the Swiss National Science Foundation for financial support.

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Political Science Research and Methods
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