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Mischievous Responders

LGBQ Flag with young people standing around it

Three papers by Joe Cimpian (AERA Open 2019; Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2020; AERA Open, 2020) deal with "mischievous responders," youth who provide extreme and untruthful responses on surveys (e.g., reporting being gay and using heroin when neither of those is true) and the effects that mischievous responders can have on estimates of LGBQ-heterosexual disparities.The AERA Opeon 2019 paper was a registered report (i.e., the methods were proposed and the paper was accepted on the strength of the design before any data were collected or analyzed), as well as a comparison of boosted regression methods for detecting mischievous responders with some other simpler techniques. Dr. Cimpian and his colleagues found that mischievous responders may lead researchers and policymakers to seriously overestimate the drug and alcohol use of LGBQ youth, but mischievous responders likely have virtually no effect on the elevated risk of LGBQ youth for bullying and suicidal ideation. These patterns reveal how methods for data validity have real-world applications for how educators and policymakers can think about the needs of vulnerable populations and target limited resources most efficiently.

Please see the citations for the three papers below:


  1. Cimpian, J. R., & Timmer, J. D. (2020). Mischievous responders and sexual minority youth survey data: A brief history, recent methodological advances, and implications for research and practice. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 49(4), 1097–1102.
  2. Cimpian, J. R., & Timmer, J. D. (2020). Reflections on “Large-scale estimates of LGBQ–heterosexual disparities in the presence of potentially mischievous responders.” AERA Open.
  3. Cimpian, J. R., & Timmer, J. D. (2019). Large-scale estimates of LGBQ–heterosexual disparities in the presence of potentially mischievous responders: A pre-registered replication and comparison of methods. AERA Open.