Sequence matters in web probing: The impact of the order of probes on response quality, motivation of respondents, and answer content

Katharina Meitinger*, Michael Braun, Dorothée Behr

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Due to the growing significance of international studies, the need for tools to assess the equivalence of items in international surveys is pressing. Web probing is a powerful tool for identifying the causes of nonequivalence; it incorporates probing techniques from cognitive interviewing into cross-national web surveys. So far, our web probing approach has applied three different probe types – category-selection probes, specific probes, and comprehension probes – to inquire about different aspects of an item. Previous research has mostly asked one probe type per item, but in some situations it might be preferable to assess potentially troublesome items with multiple probe types. However, empirical evidence is missing on whether the sequence of probe types has an impact on response quality, respondents’ motivation, and answer content. In this study, we report evidence from a web experiment that was conducted with 1,354 respondents from Germany, Great Britain, the U.S., Spain, and Mexico in June 2014. In this experiment, we asked respondents three different probes for one item, and we manipulated the sequence of probes in each experimental condition. Our research indicates that the sequence in which different probe types are asked has an impact on response quality, the respondents’ motivation, and probe answer content. However, the respondents in the five countries reacted differently to the variation in the probe sequence, suggesting that response behavior to probes is partly culturally driven.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-120
Number of pages18
JournalSurvey Research Methods
Volume12
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018

Keywords

  • Cross-cultural
  • Order of probes
  • Probes
  • Web probing

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