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Abstract

Interchangeable or not? The middle response option and the non-response option in Voting Advice Applications

In Stemwijzer, the Netherlands’ most popular Voting Advice Application, users express their opinions to political statement on a three-point scale (agree, neither of both, disagree) supplemented with a no-opinion answer (skip this question). Based on these answers, Stemwijzer gives a voting advice: it computes which political party’s or parties’ viewpoints have most similarities with the user’s views. The current research is aimed at determining whether VAA users use the middle response option and the non-response option the way they are meant; the middle response option should indicate an attitude in the middle of the scale, expressing ambivalence or a dilemma. This attitude is included in the voting advice, whereas the non-response option indicates a non-attitudinal response that is not taken into account in the voting advice. To investigate how the middle response option and non-response option are used, inhabitants of the city of Helmond were asked to fill out a VAA (N = 55); some while thinking aloud (N = 20). In addition, all participants were interviewed about their answer choices afterwards. Results show that functions of the middle response option and non-response option are interchangeable. However, when explicitly asked to describe these functions, VAA users are better able to make a distinction. Results also show that VAA users are unaware of the consequences a choice for the middle response option or the non-response option has for the voting advice. All in all, the findings show that users too often choose the middle response instead of the non-response option.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Rob van Outersterp studeerde Communicatie- en Informatiewetenschappen aan Tilburg University. Hij studeerde af met een thesis over de middelste antwoordoptie en de non-responsoptie in Voting Advice Applications onder begeleiding van Naomi Kamoen en Leonoor Oversteegen. Hij is momenteel werkzaam als marketeer., Email: [email protected] 2: Naomi Kamoen is parttime werkzaam als postdoc aan de Universiteit Utrecht, in het Begrijpelijke Taal-project “Voting Engagement Tools as political decision aids”. Daarnaast werkt zij als Universitair Docent bij de opleiding Communicatie- en Informatiewetenschappen aan Tilburg University., Email: [email protected] 3: Bregje Holleman is senior docent/onderzoeker aan de Universiteit Utrecht bij het Departement TLC en bij het Utrechts Instituut voor Lingu├»stiek OTS., Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 2016-03-01

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