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Questionnaire design: Perhaps now you'll fill in my questionnaire?

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Presentation on theme: "Questionnaire design: Perhaps now you'll fill in my questionnaire?"— Presentation transcript:

1 Questionnaire design: Perhaps now you'll fill in my questionnaire?

2 How does the way you collect data affect the data collected? How does question wording affect people’s answers?

3 Practical exercise in questionnaire use: You will (a) design a questionnaire to answer questions on some aspect of people's behaviour (smoking, exercise, hobbies, etc.) (b) administer it to a small sample (20-30 people); (c) produce an SPSS spreadsheet and analyse your results; (d) write a lab-report summarising what you did and what you found. (d) produce a Powerpoint presentation on your findings. STARS.ac.uk provide data from a large-scale survey of peoples' attitudes and behaviour with respect to fast foods - use this as a model for your own study.

4 Stages in questionnaire design: 5. Administer the questionnaire, after it has been revised in the light of (4). 1. Formulate the research question(s) clearly. 2. Identify the population and sample. 3. Design the questionnaire: think about question wording; questionnaire formatting; mode of administration; data analysis. 4. Pre-test the questionnaire.

5 Samples and populations: Sample: a subset from a population (e.g. first-year psychology students). Population: a complete set of things (e.g. all of humanity). For valid inferences to be made about a population's characteristics, a sample must be representative of its parent population (e.g. similar in age, SES, IQ, etc.)

6 Methods of obtaining questionnaire data: Postal questionnaire Personal interview Phone interview Internet questionnaire CostLowHighModerateLow Data quality: Response rate Respondent motivation Interviewer bias Low None High Moderate High Low None Sample quality:Low, unless high response rate HighModerate to high, especially with random digit dialling Moderate, but improving as Internet access widens

7 Postal Questionnaire Personal interview Phone interview Internet questionnaire Possible interview length: ShortVery longLongShort Ability to clarify and probe: NoneHigh None Anonymity:HighLow Dependence on respondent’s literacy: HighNone High Control of context and question order: NoneHigh Depends

8 Goals of Questionnaire design: 1. To obtain facts about a person. 2. To obtain information about their attitudes and beliefs. 3. To find out what a person has done (behaviours).

9 Questionnaire wording: 1.Should be exact. 2. Should be simple. 3. Avoid biased or emotive words. Schuman and Presser (1981): subtle changes of wording may influence responses. e.g. “Should the Government allow public speeches by a Communist?” produced 25% fewer pro-free-speech responses when allow was replaced with forbid.

10 4. Make all alternatives clear. e.g. Payne (1951): "Do you think that manufacturing companies that lay off workers during slack periods could arrange things to avoid layoffs and give steady work throughout the year?" 63% "yes", 22% "no" (rest had no opinion). Same question plus phrase "…or do you think layoffs are unavoidable?" 35% "yes", 41% "no".

11 5. Avoid the format: "Some people say x: do you agree or disagree?" 6. Avoid unwarranted assumptions. e.g. "What is your occupation?" assumes person has a job. 7. Avoid double-barrelled questions. e.g. "Should immigrants be repatriated and their possessions confiscated?" is two questions. 8. Avoid double negatives. e.g. "Are you against a ban on smoking?"

12 9. Consider the relative merits of open-ended and closed- ended questions. Open-ended: allow unconstrained responses. e.g. "How do you travel to the University?". May produce richly detailed responses, but hard and tedious to score. Closed-ended: require choice from a limited range of alternatives. e.g. "Do you travel to the University by (a) bus, (b) car, or (c) unicycle (tick one)". Easy to code, but prone to bias.

13 Closed-ended questions must have (a) a balanced response scale; (b) mutually exclusive categories; (c) facilities for handling "don't know" and "other" responses.

14 Rating scales: The Likert Scale: "Criminals should be flogged". Strongly agreeAgreeNeither agree nor disagree DisagreeStrongly disagree Can be or 9-point scale (doesn't make much difference). Visual Analogue Scale: Strongly agreeStrongly disagree

15 Problems with questionnaires about attitudes: 1. May not have an attitude - "doorstep opinions". 2. Attitudes may be complex and multi-dimensional. 3. Attitudes vary in intensity. 4. Expressed attitudes may depend on question wording, sequence and interviewer effects.

16 Problems with questionnaires about behaviour: 1. Memory limitations - can be counteracted by (a) asking specific questions; (b) asking for birth date rather than age; (c) using a chronological format; (d) re-interviewing. 2. Response biases due to social desirability or suspicion, especially for illegal or anti-social activities. Can be counteracted by ensuring anonymity.

17 5. Do your children prefer to eat in KFC or Macdonalds? 1. Do you visit fast food emporia regularly? Over-complex wording. Exactly what does "regularly" mean? 2. How many burgers do you eat per month? Assumes you eat burgers. 3. Some people suggest that fast food is leading to increased tooth decay and an increase in obesity amongst teenagers in many parts of the U.K. Do you agree? Over-long. Includes two separate questions. Implies you should agree with the views expressed. 4. Which of the following methods do you use to travel to your fast- food outlet? (a) Bus (b) Car (c) Bicycle Does the questioner want you to choose only one option, or can you choose more? No option for responding "other". What are the problems with these questions? Assumes you have children.

18 Conclusions: It's hard to design questionnaires properly! Always be sceptical of survey results -ask yourself Who were they collected by? Who were they collected from? How were the questions worded, exactly? Remember - "9 out of 10 cats prefer Whiskas" has become "In tests, 9 out of 10 cats who expressed a preference, preferred Whiskas".

19 Useful references: Burgess, T.F. (2001). A general introduction to the design of questionnaires for survey research. Taylor-Powell, E. (1998). Questionnaire design: asking questions with a purpose. cecommerce.uwex.edu/pdfs/G3658_2.PDF (Links to these sites from my homepage).


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