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Web Survey Bibliography

Title Turn that Frown Upside-Down: The Effects of Smiley Faces as Symbolic Language in Self-administered Surveys
Author Libman, A., Smyth, J. D.
Year 2012
Access date 28.06.2012

Question wording has long been known to influence responses. More recently, research has shown that the visual design of a questionnaire also influences responses (Smith 1995; Jenkins & Dillman 1997; Christian & Dillman 2004; Couper et al. 2004). In Smith’s original study, he found evidence that responses to a scalar question were influenced by the Dutch ladder visual aid provided with the question. Another somewhat common practice is to provide smiling and frowning faces in satisfaction scales. The faces are thought to act as a substantive symbolic language, helping respondents understand the meaning of scale points and negotiate through the scale, but we know very little about how respondents use the visual aids or what effect they have on responses. In this paper we use data from an eye tracking web experiment (n=62) conducted in Spring 2011 to examine the differences in respondents’ processing of and responses to satisfaction questions with and without smiley face visual aids. In particular, we look at total time to complete the questions, what parts of the questions respondents looked at, how long they looked at each part, and the order in which they looked at each part to try to better understand how visual aids such as smiley faces affect the processing of survey questions. Preliminary analyses indicate that those who received the smiley faces completed the question faster than those who did not receive the visual aid. Findings will help inform questionnaire design and contribute to the growing literature on how
visual elements affect survey processing and responses.

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Year of publication2012
Bibliographic typeConferences, workshops, tutorials, presentations

Web survey bibliography - The American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) 67th Annual Conference, 2012 (50)