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Web Survey Bibliography

Title The Impact of the Spacing of the Scale Options in a Web Survey
Source The American Association for (AAPOR) 63rd Annual Conference, 2008 & WAPOR 61th Annual Conference, 2008
Year 2008
Access date 20.05.2009

Studies have shown that various features of the presentation of the response options can affect the distribution of the answers. For example, as work by Schwarz has shown, the numerical labels attached to the scale points can change the apparent meaning of the options; similarly, the colors assigned to the different scale points seems to affect the answers respondents give. In this study, we examine the impact of the spacing of the response options on their relative popularity. In a randomized experiment embedded in a Web survey, we systematically varied the spacing of the options in a series of items using a five-point agreement scale. For some respondents, the scale endpoints were given more space in the scale than the three middle points. For another group of respondents, the scale midpoint (indicating neutrality) was given more space. Finally, for a third group of respondents, the scale points were evenly spaced. We thought that giving an option more space would increase its visual prominence and that this increased prominence would increase the likelihood that respondents would select the option. The results are generally in line with the visual prominence hypothesis. When the extreme options were given more space, respondents were more likely to select; this effect was apparent for four of the six items (and in several analyses across items). The effect of giving the neutral midpoint more space was less clear; only one of the six items shows a significant increase in the popularity of the neutral response when that option was more prominent. This may reflect the relative rarity of such responses. This is one of several studies demonstrating the importance of the visual prominence of information in Web surveys.

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Year of publication2008
Bibliographic typeConferences, workshops, tutorials, presentations
Full text availabilityAvailable on request

Web survey bibliography - WAPOR 61th Annual Conference, 2008 (55)

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