Cognitive Demand Characteristics, Consistency and Complexity: On the Lack of Correspondence between Questionnaire Data and Behavior.
PURDUE UNIV LAFAYETTE IND
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The discrepancy between measured idealized behavior of subjects based on paper and pencil scales and actual behavior obtained in complex tasks is discussed. The discrepancy is defined as a cognitive demand characteristic. Potential errors based on paper and pencial measurement when interpretations are generalized to wider contexts are pointed out. An experiment designed to demonstrate cognitive demand characteristics is reported. Subjects participated in a complex decision-making task and repeatedly responded to measures of behavioral intent and to measures of post hoc actual behavior. In addition, counts of actual behavior characteristics in the task were obtained. According to consistency or social desirability predictions, subjects should have avoided or narrowed any discrepancy between ideal intended and actual behavior. However, the results showed a constant discrepancy between actual and ideal behavior. The effect of this cognitive demand characteristic was somewhat larger for subjects of simple conceptual structure than for subjects of complex conceptual structure. Author