Straightlining in Web survey panels over time

  • Matthias Schonlau University of Waterloo
  • Vera Toepoel Utrecht University
Keywords: 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.