Panel Conditioning in the General Social Survey

Andrew Halpern-Manners, John Robert Warren, Florencia Torche

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Does participation in one wave of a survey have an effect on respondents’ answers to questions in subsequent waves? In this article, we investigate the presence and magnitude of “panel conditioning” effects in one of the most frequently used data sets in the social sciences: the General Social Survey (GSS). Using longitudinal records from the 2006, 2008, and 2010 surveys, we find convincing evidence that at least some GSS items suffer from this form of bias. To rule out the possibility of contamination due to selective attrition and/or unobserved heterogeneity, we strategically exploit a series of between-person comparisons across time-in-survey groups. This methodology, which can be implemented whenever researchers have access to at least three waves of rotating panel data, is described in some detail so as to facilitate future applications in data sets with similar design elements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)103-124
Number of pages22
JournalSociological Methods and Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: Support for this project was provided in part by a grant from the National Science Foundation (SES-0647710).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014, © The Author(s) 2014.


  • General Social Survey
  • longitudinal surveys
  • panel conditioning
  • panel data
  • time-in-survey effects


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