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Cleo R. Jenkins, Don A. Dillman

KEY WORDS: Questionnaire design, Visual perception, Self-administered questionnaires


Although recommendations for the design of self-administered questionnaires have been offered, few systematic efforts have been made to derive principles of design from relevant psychological or sociological theories. Our purpose in this paper is to contribute to the development of a theory for designing self-administered questionnaires. We draw from two particularly applicable disciplines--cognition, especially as it applies to visual perception, and motivation. Concepts such as pattern recognition and the Gestalt perceptual laws are utilized to propose several principles for design, thus extending our work from a previous paper. The principles are categorized into achieving good information organization and designing respondent navigational guides. Information organization refers to the choice of words for formulating questions and answers and the prescribed sequence in which respondents are expected to process them. Navigational guides refers to the means used to encourage respondents to follow a prescribed path through the questionnaire. Illustrations of the application of these principles are provided. Finally, we present results from an initial test of a U.S. Census questionnaire that adheres to the principles described here.

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CITATION: Monograph paper prepared for presentation at the International Conference on Survey Measurement and Process Quality, Bristol, England, and published in 1997. L. Lyberg, P. Biemer, M. Collins, E. DeLeeuw, C. Dippo, N. Schwarz, and D. Trewing (Eds.), Survey Measurement and Process Quality, New York: Wiley Interscience.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Statistical Research Division | (301) 763-3215 (or |   Last Revised: October 08, 2010