Is it good practice to color code response options?

ClairJClairJ Philadelphia, PACommunity Member Guru ✭✭

Is it good practice to color code response options?

I have more than once observed a respondent seemingly reading a response scale backwards — they will provide effusive, positive comments, and then select "strongly disagree" to all of our positively worded items. The most obvious way I can think to prevent this would be to color code the response options, where the most negative response option is in red and the most positive in green. Are there any data quality issues to consider with this approach? The worst thing I can come up with is that red-green in particular is a bad combination for people with colorblindness, but I'm not sure that would have an effect on their responses. This is probably also not something I'd use if I were doing serious research like scale development, but we are mostly just doing small-scale program evaluation surveys.


Best Answer

  • JenCXJenCX Broomfield, CO Wizard ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited October 2019 Accepted Answer

    My first reaction to this was "No, don't do it" but after thinking it through, I don't see as much of a bias in this case.

    Of course, color-coding should never be used with NPS because that's a whole other thing but it sounds like you're talking about a likert question that already has positive and negative language assigned to the choices. Because of that, I would personally be okay with approving this on one of my own surveys, especially if I was suffering from respondents who are not reading the choices well, as you seem to be.


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