Sample Surveys

6. Developing a Survey Instrument

Exercise 3

Question: Suppose you are conducting a survey about trash disposal behaviors and are particularly interested in specific recycling or littering behavior. Which mode, or modes, of administration would be most appropriate? Click on the mode of administration that would be most appropriate.

The Modes are:

  • Mail
  • Interviewer Administered
  • Phone
  • Web

Answers:
Mail: Correct. Recycling is socially desirable and littering is socially undesirable, therefore respondents may provide more accurate responses about whether and how much they have littered when completing a mail or web survey. As well, they may provide more candid response about whether they recycle and the extent to which they do so.

Interviewer Administered: Incorrect: While many individuals may have littered, it is well established that littering is socially undesirable behavior. The ability to recycle is driven by availability of recycling resources, but the willingness to recycle is a socially desirable behavior. A respondent may not answer a telephone or interviewer administered interview with candor about their behavior. For example, they may not admit to littering and may overstate the extent to which they recycle.

Phone: Incorrect: While many individuals may have littered, it is well established that littering is socially undesirable behavior. The ability to recycle is driven by availability of recycling resources, but the willingness to recycle is a socially desirable behavior. A respondent may not answer a telephone or interviewer administered interview with candor about their behavior. For example, they may not admit to littering and may overstate the extent to which they recycle.

Web: Correct. Recycling is socially desirable and littering is socially undesirable, therefore respondents may provide more accurate responses about whether and how much they have littered when completing a mail or web survey. As well, they may provide more candid response about whether they recycle and the extent to which they do so.

Question: Suppose you are conducting a study which is interested in capturing how much people exercise. Which question below is likely to receive the most accurate answer?

  • On how many days did you exercise at least 20 minutes last week?
  • On how many days did you exercise at least 20 minutes last year?
  • Do you exercise “a lot”?

Answers:
On how many days did you exercise at least 20 minutes last week?
Correct. This question asks about a reasonable time period and defines the amount of interest (20 minutes).

On how many days did you exercise at least 20 minutes last year?
Incorrect. This question asks about a very long time period and is subject to recall bias.

Do you exercise “a lot”?
Incorrect. This approach involves personal judgment on what is “a lot”.