Surveying Adolescents: The Impact of Data Collection Methodology on Response Quality

By Wright, Beverly; Ogbuehi, Alphonso O. | Electronic Journal of Business Research Methods, July 2014 | Go to article overview

Surveying Adolescents: The Impact of Data Collection Methodology on Response Quality


Wright, Beverly, Ogbuehi, Alphonso O., Electronic Journal of Business Research Methods


1. Introduction

Electronic data collection methods have increased in popularity among academic researchers and are perceived as able to deliver results in a cost effective and time efficient manner (McConkey, Stevens and Loudon 2003; Griffis, Goldsby and Cooper 2003). Cobanoglu, Warde and Moreo (2001) emphasize the importance of electronic methods of data collection stating that telephone and mail surveys have reached maturity; however, electronic means for collecting data have not been adequately researched since this method is relatively new. Few research studies pair electronic data collection methods with more traditional forms, such as self-administered paper and pencil methods (McConkey, Stevens and Loudon 2003). This lack of understanding is even further stressed since academic scholars such as Baruch (1999) assert that response rates for academic studies have demonstrated a general decline in recent years. Unfortunately, researchers often spend considerable resources to create and distribute mail-based questionnaires which may produce few responses (Griffis, Goldsby and Cooper 2003).

Both academics and managers must deal with limited resources including time, budget and human resource constraints when conducting research. Therefore, it is critical that researchers from the academic and managerial communities understand the influence the choice of data collection methodology has toward their respondents and survey responses, particularly when making survey design decisions.

The issues and decisions surrounding data collection methodology may become further pronounced when research requires participation from adolescents. The adolescent population is of particular interest since their role in consumer decision-making and marketplace involvement is represented by purchases of more than $160 billion in family goods and services, excluding products and services for their own consumption, including the $11 billion spent in such categories as snacks, sweets, toys, games and clothing (Del Vecchio 1998). As we continue to conduct research with the adolescent market, research to help advance our understanding of adolescent response behavior may help guide researchers in gathering relatively high levels of response quality among adolescent respondents. This research is intended to help fill this gap by comparing various response quality factors between three common data collection methods among the adolescent market segment.

2. Literature review

For purposes of this study, we present a review of prior efforts addressing issues related to data collection methodology. We focus on two key aspects, namely; data collection modes and adolescents as research subjects.

2.1 Data Collection Modes

Several scholars have recognized the impact of situational factors toward consumer response and behavior (Bush & Parasuraman 1985). Kassarjian (1968) emphasized the importance of the environment on individual behavior and early scholars such as Lewin (1935) viewed behavior as a function of the perceived environment (Bush & Parasuraman 1985). Belk (1975) also stressed the impact of the situation with respect to consumer choice along with Ward and Robertson (1973) who posited that situational variables could account for substantial variance when evaluating individual behavior (Bush & Parasuraman 1985).

Situations during research tasks are at least partially established based on a researcher's choice of data collection mode. For example, respondents from a self-administered questionnaire typically sit in a chair looking down with a writing instrument in hand and reading the survey instrument. Respondents participating in an in-person interview typically are placed in a different situation involving listening to an interviewer.

The academic literature reveals that the choice of a researcher's survey mode impacts resulting survey data in a variety of different ways. Knapp and Kirk's (2003) study involving the use of the Internet, telephone and paper and pencil for data collection among undergraduate students reveals no significant differences in responses provided. …

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