Web Survey Bibliography

Title Response option ordering: Reconciliating meanings conveyed by rating scale position and label. Unpublished paper
Year 2007
Access date 10.05.2013

In questionnaires that present fully-verbally-labeled rating scales visually to measure attitudes, response choices are usually shown in ascending or descending order from most positive or negative to least positive or negative. This research explores whether and how departures from this convention might affect respondent behavior. We manipulated the wording of answer choices and the order in which they were presented, and measured answer choices, time to complete the questionnaire, and respondent satisfaction with the survey experience.

Respondents in a large national survey were randomly assigned to one of three experimental conditions: the standard order (SO), moderately unsystematic order (MUO), and random order (RO) conditions. In the SO condition, rating scale response options were presented in a conventional order from most positive to most negative. In the MUO condition, the response options appeared in that same order except for the reversal of the ordering of the two response options at either the beginning or the end of each scale. In the RO condition, the same response options appeared, but in random orders. If respondents rely only on the denotative meanings of words in the response options, then the frequency with which people chose each option should not vary depending on presentation order. But if people quickly perceive each rating scale as representing a continuum, respondents in the MUO condition may ignore the small denotative meaning differences between the reversed adjacent scale point labels and place themselves along the continuum at the same places as they would have in the SO condition. And if people pay at least some attention to the denotative meanings of the verbal labels, then they should quickly detect the random order and choose the labels in the RO condition with the same frequency as they do in the SO condition, ignoring the order of presentation.

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Year of publication2007
Bibliographic typeReports, seminars
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Web survey bibliography - 2007 (372)