On July 1, 1997, Hong Kong ceased to be a British colony and became the first Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China (PRC). We report the results of three field experiments conducted in Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan (N = 1,250) from June to August 1997 that examine attitudes toward the impact of Hong Kong's transition as a function of question order and framing. We invoke two aspects of attitudes-(1) whether they are stored in a memory network, and (2) whether their validity is important to the respondent-to predict when order and framing effects are most likely to occur. Experiment 1 examines part-part order effects and reveals attitude polarization such that positive attitudes regarding the effect of the transition on the future of Hong Kong (China) become more extreme if they are elicited after similar responses regarding a related entity, China (Hong Kong). Experiment 2 focuses on part-whole order effects and finds evidence of carryover effects from responses to specific questions on subsequently posed general questions. Experiment 3 examines the effect of framing the transition issue as a "reunification," "handover," or "takeover" on attitudes toward the effect of Hong Kong's transition on Macau and Taiwan. The negative takeover frame elicits less favorable responses when respondents are motivated to hold attitudes perceived as valid (i.e., for attitudes toward one's own country) but not otherwise. We conclude by suggesting that reliance on survey data in making policy decisions could result in the implementation of decisions that are, objectively speaking, unpopular when the survey instrument evokes response biases.
Public Opinion Quarterlyvol.
63, (January 01, 1999):