Jan Karem Höhne
Eye-tracking methodology: Exploring the processing of question formats in web surveys

International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 2019: 22, Heft 2, S. 199-206
ISSN: 1364-5579 (print), 1464-5300 (online)

In social research, the use of agree/disagree (A/D) questions is a popular method for measuring attitudes. Research has shown that A/D questions require complex cognitive processing and are susceptible to response bias. Thus, some researchers recommend the use of item-specific (IS) questions. This study examines the processing of A/D and IS questions, using eye-tracking methodology. By recording respondents’ eye movements, how respondents process survey questions can be evaluated. The results reveal that IS questions cause more and longer fixations. However, this only applies to the response categories. There are no differences regarding the question stems. Altogether, it seems that IS response categories trigger deeper cognitive processing than A/D response categories.