Straightlining in Web survey panels over time


  • Matthias Schonlau University of Waterloo
  • Vera Toepoel Utrecht University



data quality, grid question, matrix question, satisficing, panel conditioning


Straightlining, an indicator of satisficing, refers to giving the same answer in a series of questions arranged on a grid. We investigated whether straightlining changes with respondents’ panel experience in two open-access Internet panels in the Netherlands: the LISS and Dutch Immigrant panels. Specifically, we considered straightlining on 10 grid questions in LISS core modules (7 waves) and on a grid of evaluation questions in both the LISS panel (150+ waves) and the Dutch immigrant panel (50+ waves). For both core modules and evaluation questions we found that straightlining increases with respondents’ panel experience for at least three years. Straightlining is also associated with younger age and non-western 1st generation immigrants. Where straightlining was a plausible set of answers, prevalence of straightlining was much larger (15-40%) than where straightlining was implausible (<2% in wave 1).

Author Biographies

Matthias Schonlau, University of Waterloo

Dep of Statistics and Actuarial Sciences, Professor

Vera Toepoel, Utrecht University

Department of Methods and Statistics Assistant Professor




How to Cite

Schonlau, M., & Toepoel, V. (2015). Straightlining in Web survey panels over time. Survey Research Methods, 9(2), 125–137.




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