Impact of raising awareness of respondents on the measurement quality in a web survey
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Web surveys are very attractive because they offer the possibility to collect a huge amount of data in a very short time, but they also suffer from several problems (Reips in Psychology experiments on the internet, 2000). In particular, in web panels where incentives are used to encourage the respondents’ participation, some of them answer the questions so fast that it seems impossible that they have carefully read the questions, or thought about the best answers. This paper shows the results of two experiments conducted with the online fieldwork provider Netquest, that try to reduce the speeding behaviours and get a better quality of answers by raising awareness among the respondents about the importance of completing a survey thoughtfully. The results show no effect on respondents who have been given an introductory reminder or a single commitment statement about the importance of their answers. However, when this introduction is combined with the commitment statement, a small effect on some respondents’ behaviours is found. Mainly the respondents who already put some effort in answering but not the maximum ones were affected. Participants with low quality answers continued giving low quality answers even when they were committed to do their best. From these results, we may conclude that more radical solutions than raising awareness may be necessary to assure that respondents in web surveys read the questions carefully and answer them the best way they can.
KeywordsOnline surveys Motivational message Commitment Time of completion Quality of answers Satisficing
I am very grateful for the permission I got to use the questionnaire of the Reputation Institute in Spain (http://www.reputationinstitute.com) for one of our experiments and a questionnaire of Provokers in Mexico for the other experiment (http://www.provokersite.com). I also appreciate very much the careful way in which Netquest performed the data collection and all the help given by different persons of the team, in particular Carlos Ochoa and Salvador Masdeu.
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