University of Wisconsin–Madison

New Findings Suggest Straightlining Behavior is Stable across Mail and Web Forms of Self-Administration

Researchers are increasingly turning to web and mail/web mixed-mode designs to combat rising costs and declining response rates. However, little research examines whether the two forms of self-administration lead to mode effects — differences in survey data based on the mode in which the survey is administered. UWSC recently conducted two mail/web mixed-mode studies and examined the effects of mode on straightlining behavior. Straightlining occurs when survey respondents give identical (or nearly identical) answers to items in a battery of questions using the same response scale, which may reduce data quality. Controlling for gender, race/ethnicity, and education, mode of administration was not significantly related to straightlining for any of the measures, suggesting straightlining behavior is stable across mail and web forms of self-administration.

Yujin Kim, Jennifer Dykema, John Stevenson, Penny Black, and D. Paul Moberg. “Straightlining: Overview of Measurement, Comparison of Indicators, and Effects in Mail-Web Mixed-Mode Surveys.” Social Science Computer Review.