Words, Numbers and Visual Heuristics in Web Surveys: Is there a Hierarchy of Importance?
AbstractIn interpreting questions, respondents extract meaning from how the information in a questionnaire is shaped, spaced, and shaded. This makes it important to pay close attention to the arrangement of visual information on a questionnaire. Respondents follow simple heuristics in interpreting the visual features of questions. We carried out five experiments to investigate how the effect of visual heuristics affected the answers to survey questions. We varied verbal, numerical, and other visual cues such as color. In some instances the use of words helps overcome visual layout effects. In at least one instance, a fundamental difference in visual layout (violating the 'left and top means first' heuristic) influenced answers on top of word labels. This suggests that both visual and verbal languages are important. Yet sometimes one can override the other. To reduce the effect of visual cues, it is better to use fully labeled scales in survey questions.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research in its series Discussion Paper with number 2008-92.
Date of creation: 2008
Date of revision:
Contact details of provider:
Web page: http://center.uvt.nl
questionnaire design; layout; visual language; response effects; visual cues;
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- C42 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods: Special Topics - - - Survey Methods
- C81 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Methodology for Collecting, Estimating, and Organizing Microeconomic Data
- C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Toepoel, V., 2008. "A Closer Look at Web Questionnaire Design," Open Access publications from Tilburg University urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-3130526, Tilburg University.
- Toepoel, V. & Das, J.W.M. & Soest, A.H.O. van, 2005. "Design of Web Questionnaires: A Test for Number of Items per Screen," Discussion Paper 2005-114, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
- Elisabeth Deutskens & Ko de Ruyter & Martin Wetzels & Paul Oosterveld, 2004. "Response Rate and Response Quality of Internet-Based Surveys: An Experimental Study," Marketing Letters, Springer, vol. 15(1), pages 21-36, 02.
- Deutskens, Elisabeth & Ruyter, Ko de & Wetzels, Martin & Oosterveld, Paul, 2004. "Response rate and response quality of Internet-based surveys, an experimental study," Open Access publications from Maastricht University urn:nbn:nl:ui:27-5817, Maastricht University.
- Toepoel, V. & Das, J.W.M. & Soest, A.H.O. van, 2009.
"Design of web questionnaires: The effect of layout in rating scales,"
Open Access publications from Tilburg University
urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-3736476, Tilburg University.
- Toepoel, V. & Das, J.W.M. & Soest, A.H.O. van, 2006. "Design of Web Questionnaires: The Effect of Layout in Rating Scales," Discussion Paper 2006-30, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Richard Broekman).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.