Validating the use of anchoring vignettes for the correction of response scale differences in subjective questions


Arthur van Soest, Department of Econometrics and Operations Research, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Tilburg University, PO Box 90153, 5000 LE Tilburg, The Netherlands.


Summary. Comparing self-assessed indicators of subjective outcomes (such as health, or job satisfaction) across countries or socio-economic groups is often hampered by the fact that different groups use different response scales. Anchoring vignettes are used as a tool to identify and correct for such differences. The paper develops a model in which objective measurements are used to validate such vignette-based corrections. The model is illustrated with an application to objective and subjective self-assessments of drinking behaviour by students in the Republic of Ireland. Model comparisons using the Akaike information criterion favour a specification with response consistency and vignette-corrected response scales. Put differently, vignette-based corrections appear quite effective in bringing objective and subjective measures closer together.