Satisficing in the survey

The respondents’ behaviour during the survey is influenced by various factors: the complexity of the questionnaire, the respondent’s ability and the respondent’s motivation. In long surveys, it often happens that respondents become tired, uninterested, impatient and scattered. This can lead to the respondent responding according to the satisfaction theory. This is an alternative form of behaviour for respondents who lack the engagement, but for various reasons (e.g. contract, awards, feelings of shame, habit, curiosity, etc.) nevertheless participate in the survey.

Whether respondents satisfy the questionnaire according to the satisfaction principle can be identified by different response patterns: choosing the first answer, selecting the mean, choosing the last answer, random selection, selecting the final and first values for matrix questions (tables) and using the answer ‘Do not know’, time of completing the survey.

Approaches to reducing fulfilling the survey in compliance with the satisficing principle

1. Before collecting data:

  • If possible, let the questionnaire be short, simple questions, and occasionally include questions where respondents need to explain their answer. We put important questions to the beginning.
  • The motivation of respondents can be enhanced with an emphasis on the relevance of the study.
  • We facilitate the task of the respondents by reducing the complexity of the text of the questions, avoiding questions about events that would be more difficult for the respondents to recall, complex questions are rearranged into more questions, we name all the answers.
  • The effect of the response can be reduced by randomizing responses, avoiding table type questions and non-query answers.

2. During data collection:

  • At the time of data collection, we can monitor the time when the survey is completed, which, in case, the survey is completed much faster than predicted, indicates that the possibility of fulfilling the survey by satisficing principle. It should be noted, however, that the quick completion of the survey is not necessarily an indicator of satisficing.

3. After collecting data:

  • After the data collection has been completed, we can remove the answers or even the units (or use the data insertion methods) from the analysis, where we see the occurrence of satisficing and thus improve the quality of the data.