Testing the Effects of Automated Navigation in a General Population Web Survey


This study investigates how an auto-forward design, where respondents navigate through a web survey automatically, affects response times and navigation behavior in a long mixed- device web survey. We embedded an experiment in a health survey administered to the general population in The Netherlands to test the auto-forward design against a manual-forward design. Analyses are based on detailed paradata that keep track of the respondents’ behavior in navigating the survey. We find that an auto-forward design decreases completion times and that questions on pages with automated navigation are answered significant ly faster compared to questions on pages with manual navigation. However, we also find that respondents use the navigation buttons more in the auto-forward condition compared to the manual-forward condition, largely canceling out the reduction in survey duration. Furthermore, we also find that the answer options ‘I don’t know’ and ‘I rather not say’ are used just as often in the auto-forward condition as in the manual-forward condition, indicating no differences in satisficing behavior. We conclude that auto-forwarding can be used to reduce completing times, but we also advice to carefully consider mixing manual and auto-forwarding within a survey.

Methods, Data, Analysis, pp. 107-128