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Friday, 25 July 2008

Issues in survey design: don't know, don't care, neither, other

Don Porritt recently had conversation with Jon Krosnick, a professor of social psychology at Stanford University, and internationally recognised expert on survey design about putting "none of these" as an option in an association matrix, or in fact, anywhere in a survey. The issue arose out of a Lightspeed presentation where they recommended always having a "none of these" option to reduce 'satisficing' (in short, giving a plausible but rubbish answer).

Don and Krosnick agreed that "none of these" should always be offered, and not just for people who don't have a good answer. In some situations, it's a legitimate answer in its own right. If an interviewer asks you which breakfast cereal you like, and you have tried them all and hate them all, then "none of these" is the answer you should give.

Krosnick added that this is different from "don't know" or "don't care." He suggested that before asking people their opinion about a list of things, such as a list of brands, a filter question or series of filter questions could be used. For example,

Filter question 1. "Do you have any knowledge of breakfast cereals you can find in the supermarket these days?"

Filter question 2. "do you care at all about the quality of breakfast cereals these days?"

This way, you elimate the people who either don't know, or don't care, from the sample of responses.

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posted by Dave

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