Graphical Language

Respondents interpret the meaning of survey questions from both the verbal and graphical language used in the questionnaire. Graphical language includes various elements such as contours and lines, images, numbers, and symbols and their attributes such as movement, spatial location, color or contrast, and size. These graphical elements influence how respondents perceive survey information and therefore significantly impact the survey response process. Graphical language can convey meaning independently, or it can influence or modify how written text is perceived. Thus, it can be compared to paralanguage that is conveyed aurally through a speaker's voice (e.g. inflection, tone) and to nonverbal communication in face-to-face interactions (e.g. gaze, facial expressions, body language, and gestures). Because paper and Web surveys transmit information visually, survey designers can strategically use ...

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