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American Association for Public Opinion Research

Webinar Details

Design Principles for the Use of Filter Questions

Stephanie Eckman, PhD

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

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About This Course:

To avoid asking respondents questions that do not apply to them, surveys very often use filter questions to determine routing into follow up items. Filter questions can be asked in an interleafed format, in which follow up questions are asked immediately after each relevant filter, or a grouped format, in which follow-up questions are asked only after multiple filters have been administered. Most previous investigations of such questions have found that the grouped format collects more affirmative answers to the filter questions than the interleafed format. There is evidence that respondents in the interleafed format learn to shorten the questionnaire by answering the filter questions negatively. However, there are several other factors which can also affect the responses to the filter questions, such as the repetitiveness of the follow up items, the number of follow up items, and how the questions are displayed in web surveys. The course will also cover a related form of questions, which we call looping questions -- looping questions are commonly used in panel surveys to collect information about the life course, for example to ask about all jobs a respondent has held, or all degrees earned.

Learning Objectives:

  • Participants will receive practical evidence-based guidance on how to ask filter and follow-up questions in surveys.

About the Instructor:

ImageStephanie Eckman, PhD survey methodologist with many published papers and book chapters. Over the last three years, she has worked with Frauke Kreuter and Roger Tourangeau on an NSF-funded project on Motivated Underreporting in the surveys. As part of this project, they have conducted several surveys containing filter question experiments, in multiple modes. The results have been published in several articles and presented at conferences.