Jon Krosnick

  Wednesday, 29th March 2023

  13:00 - 14:30

   Butler Room - Nuffield College

   Optimal Design of Questionnaires for Surveys and Experiments: Advice You Can’t Live Without


Since the beginning of quantitative social science, a great deal of research has been done using questionnaires, so it is no surprise that most research methods textbooks in psychology, sociology, political science, and many other disciplines include a discussion of questionnaire design.  But remarkably, the structuring, wording, and ordering of questions has traditionally been viewed as “an art, not a science”. Sudman and Bradburn (1982) said that “no ‘codified’ rules for question asking exist (p. 2).” Thus, questionnaire design has been thought of as best guided by intuition. Experienced questionnaire designers have followed some conventions over the years, but those conventions varied enough from individual to individual and from discipline to discipline to suggest there are few universally accepted principles.

In recent years, it has become clear, though, that intuition can lead us astray, so it is useful to refine our intuitions via scientific evaluation. Fortunately, a large body of relevant scientific studies has now accumulated, and when taken together, their findings clearly suggest formal rules about how best to design questions. This work has been scattered across the publication outlets of numerous disciplines, and this literature has not yet been comprehensively and integratively reviewed in a central place.

During this presentation, Dr. Krosnick will provide an overview of some of this literature to provide science-based guidelines on best practices in questionnaire design for surveys, experiments, or any other purposes. Anyone who uses questionnaires in their work will find this a useful presentation.