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A new experiment on the use of images to answer web survey questions

Bosch Jover, Oriol, Revilla, Melanie, Qureshi, Danish Daniel and Höhne, Jan (2022) A new experiment on the use of images to answer web survey questions. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society. Series A: Statistics in Society, 185 (3). 955 - 980. ISSN 0964-1998

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Identification Number: 10.1111/rssa.12856


Images might provide richer and more objective information than text answers to open-ended survey questions. Little is known, nonetheless, about the consequences for data quality of asking participants to answer open-ended questions with images. Therefore, this paper addresses three research questions: (1) What is the effect of answering web survey questions with images instead of text on breakoff, noncompliance with the task, completion time and question evaluation? (2) What is the effect of including a motivational message on these four aspects? (3) Does the impact of asking to answer with images instead of text vary across device types? To answer these questions, we implemented a 2 × 3 between-subject web survey experiment (N = 3043) in Germany. Half of the sample was required to answer using PCs and the other half with smartphones. Within each device group, respondents were randomly assigned to (1) a control group answering open-ended questions with text; (2) a treatment group answering open-ended questions with images; and (3) another treatment group answering open-ended questions with images but prompted with a motivational message. Results show that asking participants to answer with images significantly increases participants' likelihood of noncompliance as well as their completion times, while worsening their overall survey experience. Including motivational messages, moreover, moderately reduces the likelihood of noncompliance. Finally, the likelihood of noncompliance is similar across devices.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2022 The Authors
Divisions: Methodology
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HA Statistics
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Date Deposited: 13 Apr 2022 16:48
Last Modified: 29 Feb 2024 01:36

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