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Responsible Analysis When Tradeoffs are Taboo, 2002 (ICPSR 34810)

Principal Investigator(s):


Responsible Analysis When Tradeoffs are Taboo was conducted in order to better understand "taboo" responses, and to distinguish choices that are truly taboo from those that are actually difficult or confusing. Respondents reviewed information for a number of different potentially taboo plans, decisions, or proposals, such as human cell cloning, genetic modification of wheat, different insurance rates for smokers and non-smokers, and were then asked to give their opinions regarding those proposals. Respondents were given different reason sets to agree or disagree with, relative to each proposal, that ranged from whether the proposal was morally wrong to whether the proposal violates the norms of society. If respondents did not agree with the proposal, they were asked additional questions. These additional questions were used to assess whether respondents would agree with the proposal passing if there was a dollar amount that they would save as a result. In this collection, the experiment had 22 scenarios and respondents were each given 11 of these scenarios. Demographic variables included gender, age, native language, ethnic identity, and year in school.

Access Notes

  • These data are available only to users at ICPSR member institutions. Because you are not logged in, we cannot verify that you will be able to download these data.


DS0:  Study-Level Files
DS1:  Survey Data - Download All Files (5.2 MB)
DS2:  Demographic Data - Download All Files (3.4 MB)

Study Description


Gregory, Robin. Responsible Analysis When Tradeoffs are Taboo, 2002. ICPSR34810-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2013-09-11. http://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR34810.v1

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This study was funded by:

  • National Science Foundation (0114924)

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:   cloning, cognitive processes, decision making, environmental protection, ethics, genetic engineering, human rights, insurance coverage, judgment, moral judgement, prescription drugs, risk, social values, terrorism

Geographic Coverage:   Oregon, United States

Time Period:  

  • 2002-05-07--2002-05-08

Date of Collection:  

  • 2002-05-07--2002-05-08

Unit of Observation:   individual, scenario set

Universe:   Adults aged 18 to 62 recruited by the University of Oregon.

Data Types:   experimental data

Data Collection Notes:

Special collaborators for Responsible Analysis When Tradeoffs are Taboo, 2002 include Sarah Lichtenstein with Decision Research and Julie Irwin with the University of Texas.

Users may notice that the Original P.I. Documentation refers to "Experiment 2", however no data related to the 719 cases in Experiment 2 was provided by the producer for this collection.

The variable SUBJ is the linking variable for the two datasets.


Study Purpose:   This collection sought to better understand taboo responses, and to distinguish choices that are truly taboo from those that are actually difficult or confusing.

Study Design:   The experiment was based on questionnaires that described 22 mini-scenarios, covering a wide range of potentially taboo issues. Of the 22 scenarios, 18 were potentially taboo scenarios and 4 were neutral scenarios. Each participant received 11 scenarios, 9 potentially taboo scenarios and 2 neutral scenarios, each on 1 page. The 2 neutral scenarios were always presented on the second and fifth pages, with the 9 potentially taboo scenarios in 1 of 2 random orders. Approval or disapproval was measured by 6 different scales, including overall acceptability and dollar-based scales, with 16 reasons for disapproval presented for each scenario. Please refer to the Original P.I. Documentation in the ICPSR Codebook for additional information on study design.

Sample:   This collection was conducted as a convenience sample. There were two experiments conducted in this study. The participants were recruited through an advertisement in the University of Oregon newspaper. There were 254 participants who completed the experiment. Of the 254 participants, 6 were excluded because they gave notably inconsistent answers at least 5 times out of 11 to 2 items which both asked for overall evaluations of the scenario. The remaining 248 participants consisted of 126 males, 121 females, and 1 individual who did not fill out the demographics sheet. The ages of the participants ranged from 18 to 62, with a median age of 20. Please refer to the Original P.I. Documentation in the ICPSR Codebook for additional information on sampling.

Time Method:   Cross-sectional

Mode of Data Collection:   self-enumerated questionnaire

Extent of Processing:  ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.


Original ICPSR Release:  

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