FSD3587 Argument Quality Evaluation Study 2018

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  • Herne, Kaisa (Tampere University)
  • Kestilä-Kekkonen, Elina (Tampere University)
  • Mattinen, Laura (Tampere University)
  • Sipinen, Josefina (Tampere University)


attitudes, evaluation, personality, politics, trust


The argument quality evaluation survey examined the effect of an argument's source on the respondents' assessment of the credibility of the argument. The topics of the arguments included protection of employees against dismissal, wind power, income disparity, and licenses to shoot wolves. The data were collected as part of two Academy of Finland projects: Consortium of Trust Research: Pathways to Political Trust (CONTRE, 2015-2019) and Participation in Long-Term Decision-Making (PALO, 2017-2022, ID: 326662).

The respondents were randomly divided into four groups. Depending on the group, the person presenting the argument was described to the respondents either as a partial, impartial, or reluctant source, or the arguments were presented without a source. The following arguments were included in the survey: "Protection of employees against dismissal should be decreased in companies with less than 20 employees, because it would reduce the economic risks of these companies", "More wind plants must be built because increasing the use of renewable energy sources is an effective way to curb climate change", "The government should take measures to reduce differences in income levels because low income disparities increase everybody's well-being", and "The number of shooting licenses for wolves should be increased, because it would strengthen the sense of security of the people living near areas with a high number of wolves". The sources of the arguments included, for example, owners and employees of different-sized companies, people living close to wind farms, people with low, medium, or high incomes, and people living close to a wolf pack or members of a wildlife conservation NGO. The respondents were asked to evaluate the credibility of the argument, the expertise and trustworthiness of the argument's source, and the level of interest the argument's source would show towards the argument topic.

Finally, the respondents' own opinions on the topics of the arguments were surveyed. A number of items from the Big Five Inventory (John et al.) and a test of Machiavellianism were also presented to the respondents. Additionally, the respondents' political party preference, left-right political self-placement, interest in societal issues, and trust in other people and institutions were examined.

Background variables included the respondent's gender, age, mother tongue, region of residence, level of education, and household income.

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