Incentives make people doing things they wouldn’t do without getting the incentive. Participating in surveys for example. Or – even worse – participating again and again in surveys, even though they remain a dull experience. But if incentives actually compensate for boredom, couldn’t we offer less incentive by making surveys a more enjoyable experience?
This is exactly the question I tried to answer last week at the GOR conference in Mannheim. What is the value of good questionnaire design?
The answer seems simple at first: good questionnaire design may reduce the need for a monetary incentive dramatically. In our study, we were able to save 40 cents per interview while maintaining the satisfaction of our respondents on a high level. So it’s definitely worth to spend some time on questionnaire design.
The bad news is that there is no general formula for fun. Even when people are asked to do the most boring tasks ever, the can derive a sense and pleasure from it. It’s just a matter of how they frame the task mentally. That doesn’t mean that we are allowed to do dull surveys; we are probably still responsible for enabling a positive experience. But I think it challenges the idea of inherent “good” or “bad” elements of survey design.