Artificial Inflation or Deflation? Assessing the Item Count Technique in Comparative Surveys

Artificial Inflation or Deflation? Assessing the Item Count Technique in Comparative Surveys While the popularity of using the item count technique (ICT) or list experiment to obtain estimates of attitudes and behaviors subject to social desirability bias has increased in recent years among political scientists, many of the empirical properties of the technique remain untested. In this paper, we explore whether estimates are biased due to the different list lengths provided to control and treatment groups rather than due to the substance of the treatment items. By using face-to-face survey data from national probability samples of households in Uruguay and Honduras, we assess how effective the ICT is in the context of face-to-face surveys—where social desirability bias should be strongest—and in developing contexts—where literacy rates raise questions about the capability of respondents to engage in cognitively taxing process required by ICT. We find little evidence that the ICT overestimates the incidence of behaviors and instead find that the ICT provides extremely conservative estimates of high incidence behaviors. Thus, the ICT may be more useful for detecting low prevalence attitudes and behaviors and may overstate social desirability bias when the technique is used for higher frequency socially desirable attitudes and behaviors. However, we do not find strong evidence of variance in deflationary effects across common demographic subgroups, suggesting that multivariate estimates using the ICT may not be biased. Political Behavior Springer Journals

Artificial Inflation or Deflation? Assessing the Item Count Technique in Comparative Surveys

Loading next page...
Springer US
Copyright © 2013 by Springer Science+Business Media New York
Social Sciences, general; Political Science, general; Sociology, general
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site


  • Effect of response format on endorsement of eating disordered attitudes and behaviors
    Anderson, DA; Simmons, AM; Milnes, SM; Earleywine, M

You’re reading a free preview. Subscribe to read the entire article.

DeepDyve is your
personal research library

It’s your single place to instantly
discover and read the research
that matters to you.

Enjoy affordable access to
over 12 million articles from more than
10,000 peer-reviewed journals.

All for just $49/month

Explore the DeepDyve Library

Unlimited reading

Read as many articles as you need. Full articles with original layout, charts and figures. Read online, from anywhere.

Stay up to date

Keep up with your field with Personalized Recommendations and Follow Journals to get automatic updates.

Organize your research

It’s easy to organize your research with our built-in tools.

Your journals are on DeepDyve

Read from thousands of the leading scholarly journals from SpringerNature, Elsevier, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford University Press and more.

All the latest content is available, no embargo periods.

See the journals in your area

Monthly Plan

  • Read unlimited articles
  • Personalized recommendations
  • No expiration
  • Print 20 pages per month
  • 20% off on PDF purchases
  • Organize your research
  • Get updates on your journals and topic searches


Start Free Trial

14-day Free Trial

Best Deal — 39% off

Annual Plan

  • All the features of the Professional Plan, but for 39% off!
  • Billed annually
  • No expiration
  • For the normal price of 10 articles elsewhere, you get one full year of unlimited access to articles.



billed annually
Start Free Trial

14-day Free Trial