Notice: the WebSM website has not been updated since the beginning of 2018.

Web Survey Bibliography

Title The Influence of Answer Box Format, Personal Topic Interest, and Respondent Characteristics on Response Behavior in Open-ended Questions
Author Keusch, F.
Year 2013
Access date 31.05.2013

Previous research showed that the visual design of answer fields for open-ended questions in self-administered surveys influences response behavior depending on the type of response that is collected (Couper et al. 2011). For narrative responses, larger answer fields produce longer, more elaborated responses (Christian & Dillman 2004; Israel 2010; Stern et al., 2007), especially with less motivated respondents (Smyth et al., 2009). Questions that ask for frequencies and numeric responses seem to be less influenced by the answer space provided (Couper et al., 2011; Fuchs, 2009). Until now, no study has looked at the influence of the visual design of answer boxes in open-ended questions that ask respondents to list all known items of a specific category. Additionally, there is only limited research looking at the influence of personal topic interest on response behavior in open-ended questions (Holland & Christian, 2009).This paper looks at differences in response behavior (number of items named, item omission, response latency, and response order) between formats that provide the respondent with one large answer box or ten small answer boxes when asked for unaided brand awareness. In three experiments embedded in Web surveys, respondents from a nonprobability online panel were randomly assigned to one of two question formats asking for unaided brand awareness of insurances (Experiment 1), airlines (Experiment 2), and car tires (Experiment 3). In two of the three experiments personal interest in the topic of the survey could be controlled for. The results of this study show that the number of brands named is significantly higher when ten small answer boxes are presented in two of the three studies indicating that respondents infer from the answer box format what the questionnaire designer expects from them. Personal topic interest and demographic characteristics of the respondents seem to play only a minor role.

Access/Direct link

Conference Homepage (abstract)

Year of publication2013
Bibliographic typeConferences, workshops, tutorials, presentations

Web survey bibliography - Keusch, F. (21)