Response Error in a Web Survey and a Mailed Questionnaire: The Role of Cognitive Functioning

47 Pages Posted: 22 Feb 2017

See all articles by Martin Kroh

Martin Kroh

German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin) - German Socio Economic Panel

Denise Lüdtke

German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin)

Sandra Düzel

Max Planck Society for the Advancement of the Sciences - Max Planck Institute for Human Development

Florin Winter

German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin)

Date Written: December 2016

Abstract

Web-based interviewing is gradually replacing traditional modes of data collection, in particular telephone and mailed surveys. This global trend takes place despite the fact that established knowledge of its consequences on response error is incomplete. This paper studies differences between a web (CAWI) and a mailed version (MAIL) of a questionnaire in various forms of response error, namely item nonresponse, satisficing, person-reliability, and social desirable responding. We posit 1) that response error depends on respondents cognitive functioning, namely in the domains of global reading abilities, fluid intelligence, as well as working and episodic memory; and 2) that these effects differ across modes of data collection with generally higher prevalence in the CAWI mode since this mode is more demanding.

The analysis builds on a randomized mode experiment implemented in the context of the Berlin Aging Study II (BASE-II), a survey that primarily focuses on multidimensional processes of physical and mental aging (see Bertram et al. 2014). The analysis reveals a high impact of cognitive functioning at the various stages of the survey response process. While we do found moderate mode-differences in response error, such as higher item nonresponse rates in the CAWI mode, we did not find cognitive functioning to be a better predictor of response error in web-based interviewing.

Keywords: Mixed-Mode Design, CAWI, Cognitive Functioning, Response Quality a Web

Suggested Citation

Kroh, Martin and Lüdtke, Denise and Düzel, Sandra and Winter, Florin, Response Error in a Web Survey and a Mailed Questionnaire: The Role of Cognitive Functioning (December 2016). SOEPpaper No. 888, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2920616 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2920616

Martin Kroh (Contact Author)

German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin) - German Socio Economic Panel ( email )

DIW Berlin
Berlin, Berlin 14191
Germany

Denise Lüdtke

German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin)

Mohrenstraße 58
Berlin, 10117
Germany

Sandra Düzel

Max Planck Society for the Advancement of the Sciences - Max Planck Institute for Human Development ( email )

Lentzeallee 94
Berlin, D-14195
Germany

Florin Winter

German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin) ( email )

Mohrenstraße 58
Berlin, 10117
Germany

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