Psychology, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Applied Cognitive Psychology 21 (2007), pp. 141–144; doi: 10.1002/acp.1333 Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Used by permission.


For quite some time, survey researchers have sought to understand the causes of re¬sponse errors, that is the difference between what respondents report and the truth of their circumstances (O’Muircheartaigh, 1997). Within the past 20 years, a dialogue has emerged between cognitive psychologists and survey researchers to explore the role that cognition plays in response errors (Jabine, Straf, Tanur, & Tourangeau, 1984; Jobe & Mingay, 1991). The dialogue has been known as the cognitive aspects of survey methodology (CASM) movement. Of course, to survey researchers, the aim is to reduce response errors. By adopting perspectives and methods from cognitive psychology, survey researchers have acquired a fuller understanding of the role of cognitive processes in question answering (Tourangeau, Rips, & Rasinski, 2000), and on how to better control and reduce response errors (Belli, Shay, & Stafford, 2001; Willis, 2005). But for cognitive psychologists, their aim has been to acquire new research findings that will advance cognitive theory. Recently, some researchers have been expressing frustration on the apparent lack of progress on this front (Tanur, 1999; Tourangeau et al., 2000, pp. 335–340; Wright & Loftus, 1998). For this dialogue between cognitive psychology and survey methodology to be a healthy and vibrant one, both disciplines must see the relationship as being worthwhile.