Personality research on the Internet: A comparison of Web-based and traditional instruments in take-home and in-class settings

Abstract

Students, faculty, and researchers have become increasingly comfortable with the Internet, and many of them are interestedin using the Web to collectdata. Few published studies have investigated the differences between Web-based data and data collected with more traditional methods. In order to investigate these potential differences, two important factors were crossed in this study: whether the data were collected on line or not and whether the data were collected in a group setting at a fixed time or individually at a time of the respondent’s choosing. The Visions of Morality scale (Shelton & McAdams, 1990) was used, and the participants were assigned to one of four conditions: in-class Web survey, in-class paper-and-pencil survey; take-home Web survey, and take-home paper-and-pencil survey. No significant differences in scores were found for any condition; however, response rates were affected by the type of survey administered, with the take-home Web-based instrument having the lowest response rate. Therefore, researchers need to be aware that different modes of administration may affect subject attrition and may, therefore, confound investigations of other independent variables.