Web Survey Bibliography
Increasingly colleges and universities use survey results to make decisions, inform research, and shape public opinion. Given the large number of surveys distributed on campuses, can researchers reasonably expect that busy respondents will diligently answer each and every question? Less serious respondents may “satisfice,” i.e., take short-cuts to conserve effort, in a number of ways—choosing the same response every time, skipping items, rushing through the instrument, or quitting early. In this paper we apply this satisficing framework to demonstrate analytic options for assessing respondents’ conscientiousness in giving high fidelity survey answers. Specifically, we operationalize satisficing as a series of measurable behaviors and compute a satisficing index for each survey respondent. Using data from two surveys administered in university contexts, we find that the majority of respondents engaged in satisficing behaviors, that single-item results can be significantly impacted by satisficing, and that scale reliabilities and correlations can be altered by satisficing behaviors. We conclude with a discussion of the importance of identifying satisficers in routine survey analysis in order to verify data quality prior to using results for decision-making, research, or public dissemination of findings.
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