PSYB01 - Chapter 7 Notes
Asking People About Themselves: Survey Research
Why conduct surveys?
Survey: Methodology of asking people to tell us about themselves.
Can study relationship among variables, and how attitudes/behaviors change over time.
As a complement to experimental research.
California and Wiscosin: Increase negative effect, which associate with linger work hours in high school.
Have assumption of people are able to provide truthful and accurate answer in use of questionnaires .
Response set: Tendency to respond to all question from particular perspective .
Rather than provide answers that directly related to questions .
e.g. Social desiratiblity: or known as “faking good”, individual answers in more socially
acceptable way .
Jourard: Suggest people are more likely to lie when they don’t trust the researcher .
Constructing Question to Ask
Defining the Research Objectives .
First researchers must determine research objectives explicitly .
Require researchers to decide on type of question to ask .
Survey question about: Attitudes, beliefs, behaviour , fact and demographics etc.
Attitudes and Beliefs : Focus on ways of people evaluate and think about issues .
Facts and Demographics:
Factual question: Ask people to indicate things they know about themselves and situations.
Demographic information is necessary to describe the sample (e.g. age / gender) .
A great deal of care is necessary to write the very best questions for a survey. Cognitive psychologists
have identiﬁed a number of potential problems with question. Many of the problems stem from
difﬁculties with understanding the question, including (a) unfamiliar technical terms, (b) vague or
imprecise terms, (c) ungrammatical sentence structure, (d) phrasing that overloads working memory,
and (e) embedding the question with misleading information.
The following considerations are important to keep in mind when you are writing questions ...
Unnecessary Complexity - the questions asked in a survey should be relatively simple.
Double-Barreled Question - avoid asking 2 things at once in question .
Loaded Question - Written to lead people to respond in one way.
Different wordings may lead to different responses .
Questions include emotionally charged words may influence way people respond which may
lead to biased conclusions (e.g. word of rape/waste/immoral etc.) .
Negative Wording - avoid phrasing question with negatives .
e.g. “Do you feel city should not approve the proposed women’s shelter?”
Agree with the questions = disagreement with proposal .
Can be confuse people, result inaccurate answers .
“Yea-Saying” and “Nay-Saying” - “Yea-Saying”: Tendency of respondent employ response set to agree with all questions .
“Nay-Saying”: Tendency of respondent employ response set to disagree with all questions .
Question Understanding Aid (QUAID): Computer program which analyzes question wordings .
Response to Questions : What Kind Of Data Are You Seeking?
Closed-Verus Open-Ended Questions -
Closed-ended question: Limited number of response alternatives are given .
More structured approach, easier to code .
More likely to use when dimensions of variables are well defined .
Open-ended question: Respondents are free to answer in any way .
Require time to categorize and code for responses, more costly .
Most useful when researcher needs to know what people are thinking/view the world .
Schwarz - points out that closed- versus open-ended questions can sometimes lead to different
Rating Scales for Closed-Ended Questions -
With closed-ended questions, there are a ﬁxed number of response alternatives. Rating scales ask
people to provide “how much” judgments on any number of dimensions—amount of agreement, liking,
or conﬁdence, for example.
Labelling Response Alternatives -
How conﬁdent are you that the defendant is guilty of attempted murder?
0 1 2 3 4 5
Not at all confident Very confident
Respondents decide the meaning of the other response alternatives.
Number of Response Alternatives -
With closed-ended question: Fixed number of response alternatives.
e.g. simple answer of “yes or no”, or 7-point scale
Graphic Rating Scale -
Graphic Rating Scale: Require continuous 100-mm line that anchored with description at each end.
Ruler is then placed on line to obtain score from 0-100 .
Semantic Differential Scale -
Semantic differential scale: is a way to measure the meaning people ascribe to concepts.
Measure of meaning of concepts that developed by Osgood .
Respondents rate any concept one bipolar adjectives using 7-point scales .
Concepts are rated along 3 basic dimensions:
1) Evaluation (adjectives)
3) Potency (weak-strong, hard-soft) Nonverbal Scale for Children -
Point to the face that shows how you feel about the toy.
Finalizing the Questionnaire
Formatting The Questionnaire
Printed questionnaire should appear attractive and professional.
Neatly typed, free of spelling errors, use scale format consistently .
Roberson and Sundstrom: Obtain highest return rates when important questions present first .
and when demographic questions asked last .
Better to group questions together when they address similar theme/topic .
Better to give questions to small group of people, have them “think aloud” while answering .
”Think aloud” procedure: Need to ask individuals to tell you how they interpret each questions .
Provide information that can use to improve questions .
Two ways to administer surveys:
1) Use written questionnaire
2) Use interview format
Questions are presented in written format, respondent write their answers .
Advantages: Generally less costly than interviews .
Allow respondents be completely anonymous, as long as no identifying information .
Disadvantages: Require respondents be able to read and understand question .
May find boring to set by themselves reading and providing answer .
Surveys can be mailed to individuals at home or business address .
Potentially low response rates, no one is present to help if person bec