General Online Research 2011

March 14-16, 2011, Heinrich-Heine University of Düsseldorf


Conference Agenda

Overview and details of the sessions of this conference. Please select a date or room to show only sessions at that day or location. Please select a single session for detailed view (with abstracts and downloads if available).

Session Overview

P: Poster Presentations

Time: Wednesday, 16/Mar/2011: 11:30am - 12:30pm


“Me, myself and my Avatar?” - Cultural differences of character attachment and usage motivation in MMORPGs

Daniel Schultheiss1, Nicholas David Bowman2, Christina Schumann1

1Ilmenau University of Technology, Germany; 2Young Harris College, GA, USA


The popularity of video games has caused entertainment scholars to change the way we think about the interactions between audiences and mediated characters. Whereas in the past, scholars used the term parasocial interaction to explain feelings of connectedness with fictional characters (Perse & Powell, 1985), video games have qualitatively changed this conceptualization because they have made the distance between video game characters and their users much more proximal, if not completely removing the distinction altogether. Thus, a distinguishing feature relevant to the current study that separates video games from non-interactive media is the psychological merging of a player’s and a character’s mind (Oatley, 1999), referred to in literature as character attachment (CA; Lewis et al., 2008). The current study extends work on Internet game play motivations (Sherry et al., 2006; Yee, 2006) by investigating the unique role of CA in explaining RPG gamers’ motivations for their game play in different cultural areas like North America, Europe and Asia.

Methods & Data:

Survey data of this study (N ~ 500) was collected from North American, European and Asian gamers in online surveys, and comparisons regarding the expected cultural differences will be made with respect to a variety of theoretically-relevant socio-demographic variables.


Our study will investigate the effect of CA on a variety of video game play motivations identified in the literature (e.g., pro-social and anti-social gaming; Sherry et al., 2006; Yee, 2006). In addition, our study will examine the effects of CA on the economics of RPG Internet games, including willingness to pay for games. Key results contain quite strong correlations between CA and pro-social gaming motivations as well as differences in the strength of CA in different cultural areas.

Added value:

Our research analyzes player and character identity, how it might relate to motivations for game play, and how it differs in distinct cultural areas. It provides us with insight as to how study respondents ‘see’ their characters – or perhaps more appropriately, how they see themselves as their character – and how this person/avatar perception influences their play styles.

Schultheiss-“Me, myself and my Avatar”-145.pdf

“What a girl wants” – Female playing patterns in Internet-based games

Daniel Schultheiss

Ilmenau University of Technology, Germany


While video gaming – especially Internet gaming – has grown in population in recent years, one population of nontraditional gamers that has exploded in recent years is female gamers. In the US forty percent of all gamers are female and female gamers demographically are the fastest growing group of gamers (ESA, 2010). Not surprising is that girls and women are highly motivated to seek out entertainment and that they tend expect high-quality information and communication technologies.

The current study askes specifically for female gamer’s usage behaviors with Internet-based video games. The focus is specifically on these games because of their social nature (Smith & Collock, 1999) and on their relative ease of ownership and operation (Schultheiss, Bowman & Schumann, 2008); unlike other types of video games, Internet games do not require expensive hardware or deep technological knowledge to play, only a modest computer, an Internet connection, and a desire to be entertained. So there is a broad base of people who are able to use them.

Methods & Data:

Survey data of female players (N ~ 1,900) was collected online worldwide, and compared to a random sample of same size of male gamers from a larger data set of respondents (N ~ 10,000). Variables examined include standard socio-demographics (age, origin, occupation, etc.), different types of Internet-based video games (casual, persistent, single-player and multi-player games) as well as comparisons between female and male players.


Core results show on the one hand that female players prefer less complex games and on the other hand female players use single-player more frequently compared to the more social multi-player games than male players. In addition, female players showed higher usage times and a greater willingness to pay for special types of Internet-based video games (e.g. casual browser-based games) than male players, which has implications for the economic impact of this over-looked segment of the video game audience.

Added Value:

As the results especially on the usage behaviors and the economic potential are relatively new our discussion delivers important knowledge in the context of a larger program of research on female Internet gamers.

Schultheiss-“What a girl wants” – Female playing patterns-147.pdf

Screening for Perceived Website Usability: The PWU-g-Scale

Caroline Buhl, Meinald Thielsch

University of Münster, Germany

Relevance & Research Question:

Nowadays the World Wide Web is an essential communication medium for most people in their private and business life. Usability is one key aspect of website perception and is defined as the extent of effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction which enables web users to achieve their aims, for example searching and finding specific information. While there are several broad questionnaires to measure website usability a short screening instrument is still lacking. Thus, in several previous studies we developed a screening scale for website usability. The purpose of the current study was to investigate the construct validity of the Scale for Measuring Perceived Website Usability-german (PWU-g).

Methods & Data:

In terms of the construct validity the PWU-g was used amongst additional convergent and discriminative scales for evaluating different website aspects. Based on expert ratings a set of ten websites from different categories was developed. The main study consists of a total of 305 participants between 18 and 59 years (one third male) who completed an online survey. Each participant assessed only one website which was assigned to them at random.


The analysis showed evidence for factor/construct, convergent, divergent, and discriminative validity. With regard to factor/construct validity, the PWU-g emerged being unidimensional. The seven items explain about 73 % of the variance. The PWU-g showed high internal consistency (α = .95). The results of convergent validity ranged between r = .59 and r = .84. Concerning divergent validity statistical values were lower (.01 ≤ r ≤ .59) than those of convergent validity, yet significant in part. In terms of the discriminative validity the effect size of the mean value differences was d = 1.74. The 95 % confidence interval ranged between 1.15 and 2.33. Consequently the PWU-g is able to discriminate between websites characterized by their extent of usability.

Added Value:

In sum the PWU-g is a standardized short scale for evaluating perceived website usability which fulfills the scientific demands of objectivity, reliability and validity. The questionnaire is suitable for websites from different categories and for any population. Furthermore it provides an economic assessment of websites concerning time and costs. These aspects argue for the use of the PWU-g.

Determinants of Social Business Network Usage Behavior – Applying the Technology Acceptance Model and it's Extensions

Guido Moeser1, Gero Schwenk2, Heiko Moryson2

1University of Siegen, Germany; 2University of Giessen, Germany

Relevance & Research Question: Usage of social business networks like LinkedIn and XING has become a commonplace in today's workplaces. This research addresses the question what factors drive the intention to use social business networks. Theoretical frame of the study is the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) and it's extensions, most importantly the TAM2 model.

Methods & Data: Data has been collected via a Web Survey among users of LinkedIn and XING from January to April 2010. Of 541 initial responders 321 finished the questionaire. Operationalization was tested using confirmatory factor analyses and causal hypotheses were evaluated by means of structural equation modeling.

Results: Core result is that the TAM2 model generally holds in the case of social business network usage behavior, explaining 73% of the observed usage intention. This intention is most importantly driven by perceived usefulness, attitude towards usage and social norm, with the latter effecting both directly and indirectly over perceived usefulness. However, perceived ease of use has – contrary to hypothesis – no direct effect on the attitude towards usage of social business networks.

Added Value: The results of this research provide implications for social busines network design and marketing. Customers seem to evaluate ease of use as an integral part of the usefulness of such a service which leads to a situation where it can not be dealt with separately by a service provider. Furthermore, the strong direct impact of social norm implies application of viral and peer-2-peer marketing techniques.

Moeser-Determinants of Social Business Network Usage Behavior – Applying the Technology Acceptance Model and its E.doc

Does the computer know better, who are you looking for? Case study of introduction of a behavior-based recommendation system on an online dating site

Laszlo Lorincz1, Gyorgy Dozsa2

1Habostorta Ltd, Hungary; 2Gravity R&D, Hungary

Relevance & Research Question:

Some online dating platforms completely delegates the task of search to the user, but others heavily concentrates on recommendations given to them. A recommendation system affects the patterns of users’ partner choice, and if planned prudently, can create value added to the site. However precaution is necessary, as dating is significantly different from e-commerce, the traditional field of recommendation engines.

First, this study overviews the specialties of online dating business: what should be known from the sociological, social network and psychological literature of partner selection, when introducing a recommendation system.

Second, we analyze, how did the particular system affect the behavior of users. How did the number of contacts, the degree distribution of contacts, and the homophily change?

An interesting question is performance: whether the behavioral based recommendation system gives better results, than the users’ own searches.

Finally, we discuss, how does the layout (GUI) of the recommendation affect the above questions

Methods & Data:

Randivonal, Hungary’s market leader dating site introduced a behavior based recommendation system developed by Gravity R&D in 2010. The new system was introduced after a three month test period, when only the half of the users got the new recommendations. The other half got the previous simple demography based recommendations. Usage of the dating site, including clicking on the recommendations, and contacts to other users was logged during the trial period, and the database was archived later at the end of the research.


CT on the new system was increased by 106% in the test group. This resulted in a 24% increase in views of other users’ profiles and 13% increase in messages written. (Results will be supplemented with additional data regarding Q2 and Q3)

Added Value:

Behavior based recommendation on dating sites is a novel practice, only few sites introduced such systems to date, therefore not much is known about this business model. Furthermore, though there is an increasing body of research analyzing the sociological effects of online dating, however, it is not known, how it is different by types of dating sites.

Lorincz-Does the computer know better, who are you looking for Case study-224.pdf

User Generated Content on News Websites: What makes users comment on news?

Patrick Weber

Institute of Mass Communication and Media Research, University of Zurich, Switzerland

User Comments on news websites are of both practical (e.g. engage users in website use and thereby increase the “stickiness” of the site) and scholarly relevance. The research builds on two approaches: First, the theory of newsworthiness. It is assumed that that the psychological mechanisms on which news factors operate are also relevant for commenting. RQ1: How do news factors influence the number of comments an article receives? Second, a theoretical framework to UGC which highlights the role of “transformational rules” (modifications of user messages by the providers of a mass media website).RQ2: How do different transformational rules influence the number of comments an article receives?

Online content analysis of the political news coverage on welt.de, focus.de and sueddeutsche.de in two constructed weeks during fall 2008. A web crawler was used to download all pages of the websites at a randomly selected access time and a sub-sample was randomly selected and analyzed by 21 coders. For each news article 3 groups of variables were coded: the news website; number of user comments; news factors; the publication time; a set of variables characterizing the linking of the article on the homepage and the politics section homepage of the website which were factor-analyzed to obtain indices for two dimensions of the prominence of the linking for the article (salience). The coding yielded complete data for 559 articles.

Data were analyzed by fitting a negative binomial regression model. The likelihood ratio chi² comparing this model with null (constant only) model was significant (LR chi2(16)=391,72; p=0,0000). Significant effects of the transformation rules (website=welt.de b=2,2 p<0,000; website=focus.de b=1,5 p<0,000), salience indices (homepage salience b=0,59 p<0,000; politics section salience b=0,47 p<0,000) and the news factors ethnocentricity (b=0,44 p<0,000), duration (b=0,64 p<0,000), controversy (b=0,24 p<0,045), unexpectedness (b=-0,39 p<0,047), reach (b=0,48 p<0,006), damage (b=0,38 p<0,006) and facticity (b=-1,08 p<0,06).

Added Value: First empirical evidence for the relevance of transformational rules in the process of user content generation on mass media websites. The study showed that content features of news stories (news factors) as well as presentation characteristics (salience of the teaser on the homepage) are influential.

Weber-User Generated Content on News Websites-230.ppt

LeLeCon Research project: Cost-benefit calculation of blended-learning vs. teaching in higher education

Anna K. Schwickerath

Heinrich-Heine-University Düsseldorf, Germany

LeLeCon project: Cost-benefit calculation of blended-learning vs. teaching in higher education

Relevance and Research Question:

LeLeCon is an empirical study, which looks at the costs and expenditure (for example of time) needed to develop, perform and evaluate e-learning, especially blended-learning courses in comparison to traditional academic teaching.

LeLeCon is a cooperative project between three faculties (humanities, economics, medicine). This cooperation is in particular beneficial considering the relevance of faculty cultures as one significant part of the study.

Research questions are: What does academic teaching cost? Can blended learning save us time and money or is it more time-consuming than traditional teaching?

The project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

Methods and Data:

The study is based on one survey and several qualitative interviews among professors and lecturers at the Heinrich-Heine-University. Along the lines of our project cooperation we asked 70 employees of the participating departments in our first survey.

In reverence to the results we started to arrange guideline based interviews with professors and lecturers at the HHUD.

At present we arrange a web survey to achieve a larger number of cases.


Due to the results of our first survey the preparation of blended learning courses in some cases required more time than traditional courses: The average time for the preparation of blended learning courses is about 100 hours – for traditional teaching ten hours less were needed. But looking at different categories results were the opposite. This survey also revealed the impact of faculty cultures on the perception of the amount of time which is spend on academic teaching.

First results show that work experience seems to be the crucial point when it comes to questions of work load and its perception.

We intent to show first results of the web survey on our poster.

Added Value:

In times of increasing financial responsibility for universities (in Germany) controlling becomes more and more important even in higher education teaching. This study aims to improve the methods of time and work load measurement in order to support universities to become more efficient in using either eLearning or traditional course arrangements.

The Perception of Online Media’s Relevance in the Context of Elections

Marco Dohle, Gerhard Vowe

University of Düsseldorf, Germany

Relevance & Research Question: The research question reads: Which political influences are implied to which online media by whom, and what consequences does this have on political beliefs and attitudes? In a survey participants were asked how they estimate the political influence of online media on themselves and on others. The study focused on theoretical approaches such as the third-person effect and the influence of presumed media influence approach. The main relevance is to investigate the political power that is implied by people to online media in comparison to traditional media.

Methods & Data: The study was realized in the context of the state parliamentary election in North Rhine-Westphalia 2010. An online survey was conducted. The study brought about a total of 875 valid cases: 212 respondents were politicians, 74 were journalists. The third group was made up of 589 other people. The questionnaire included items concerning the perceptions of the political influence of traditional media and different online media. The participants had to assess the influences on themselves, on the anonymous general public (the so-called third persons) and on different other groups, such as first-time voters. Additionally, other variables were included in the questionnaire – especially items regarding the consequences of these perceptions.

Results: Politicians, journalists, and students believed themselves to be less susceptible by traditional media than third persons – this is in line with the results of other third-person effect studies with a focus on traditional media. However, results were different regarding presumed influences of online media : especially politicians and journalists believed themselves to be more influenceable by online media than other persons. Moreover, participants opined that online media have a more positive influence on themselves and on other persons compared to traditional media.

Added Value: We compared the presumed media influence with regard to different (online) media and different groups. The results show that it is necessary to differentiate between presumed influences of traditional and online media (and additionally between different online media). Based on this, we will discuss notable characteristics of online media regarding presumed political influences and its consequences on attitudes and behavior.

Dohle-The Perception of Online Media’s Relevance-128.pptx

Going beyond the click. Combining behavioural and declarative data in measuring on-line advertising effectiveness.

Barbara Krug, Małgorzata Półtorak

IIBR (Gemius Group), Poland

Relevance & Research Question:

The internet importance as advertising medium grows. Does higher spending automatically translates into communication effectiveness? Not really. Market research conducted by Gemius shows that the Internet users negatively assess internet ads compared to traditional media. Is the negative perception related with the media specific, or rather with creative and media planning quality? Thus, we need to understand how our campaign really works.

Typically, clicks and successful conversions to the landing page are used to measure direct response to the campaign. They perfectly assess ad effectiveness, when conversion is the only objective. But, like every advertising, online campaigns may be expected to do more: affect brand awareness, perception, purchase.

To what extent may the direct response indicators explain the effectiveness in more elusive aspects? Does better performance in terms of clicks imply higher persuasiveness? What is the relative impact of the ad format and creative idea? How to measure total impact of the ad?

Methods & Data:

We conducted a case study with Unilever and Onet.pl (the biggest polish portal) in summer 2010 for Knorr Nudle campaign (3 formats x 3 creatives).

Combining site-centric and declarative approach in natural experiment, we got comprehensive assessment of the campaign as regards: reach, communication and effect.

The total sample sizes were: 621 210 (site-centric module) and 893 (questionnaire).


High direct response indicators may correlate with high persuasiveness nor impact on the brand. High CTR implies noticeability, however ads with low CTR may still generate satisfactory ad branded awareness.

Aggressive formats work better for less noticeable creatives, while static ones are safer for very dynamic designs.

Creative line with lower direct response turned out to better meet the campaign key objectives. In traditional approach, the creative with higher CTR would be used.

Added Value:

Results of the project provide better understanding of the mechanism of online advertising impact. The approach would help to optimise online campaigns. It will be useful for advertisers, media houses and the publishers.

Krug-Going beyond the click Combining behavioural and declarative data-223.pdf

Using Amazon's Mechanical Turk for the recruitment of participants in Internet-based research

Ulf-Dietrich Reips1,2, Laura Buffardi1, Tim Kuhlmann3

1University of Deusto, Spain; 2IKERBASQUE, Basque Foundation for Science, Spain; 3University of Mainz, Germany

Relevance & Research Question: Recently, there has been a surge in the use of Amazon's Mechanical Turk as a way of recruiting participants for online research. Mechanical Turk (MT) is a mini job market, where short and easy jobs are posted by “employers” and completed by “workers” for relatively little pay. Workers are primarily motivated by payment. In economics, a field in which many online studies have recently used MT, this may be a valid recruitment method. However, from a psychology and social science perspective, it seems questionable to employ "workers" as participants. The main motivation of research participants in these fields is usually to contribute to science, help researchers, and to learn about one's self. Thus, we expected that participants recruited from MT would provide lower quality of data than participants recruited via other sources.

Methods & Data: For a large-scale test development project with 160 items, the multiple site entry technique was used to recruit samples from different sites and in different modes. Among the recruitment sites and modes were mailing lists, web study lists, blog announcements, Facebook groups, and MT. Overall, there were 1583 respondents in the study, among them 1190 recruited via MT.

Results: Participants recruited via MT had faster response times (mean difference: 14859ms/page; median difference: 3348ms/page) and answered more to the middle of response scales than participants recruited via other sources. In fact, out of the 64 items with different means, MTurkers scored more in the middle of the scale in 50 items.

Added Value: Several indicators support the hypothesis that participants recruited via MT provide lower quality data than participants from traditional sources for online research. We speculate that the root of these findings is that participants sign up as "worker." Workers respond to be paid and research participants respond to help with research. A second reason why MT workers provide lower quality data may be tied to the forums they have established where jobs are discussed, including online studies. It may well be that rumors and experiences spread in these forums lead to a decrease in data quality.

Media trust, social capital and institutional trust in Europe

Marco Carradore

University of Verona, Italy

  • Media trust, social capital, institutional trust

Empirical research on the media shows that they have important effects in determining the political behaviour of citizens. In this way, some scholars have shown that the media decrease citizens’ political participation and trust in political. On the other hand, other scholars have shown that contemporary mass media have a significant impact in promoting democracy, political knowledge and civic engagement.

This study examines the relationship between citizens’ trust in the media, the use of the media for obtaining information about politics and political matters, and the effects of social capital and trust in the European Parliament. In this study, the first objective is to find out if people living in an area where social capital is more widespread have more trust in the media and in the European institutions. The second objective is to analyse the influence of exposure to the media and widely spread social capital on citizens’ trust in the European Parliament.

  • Logistic regression, Eurobarometer 71.1, sample survey

The data came from a probability sample survey of European residents (Eurobarometer 71.1), and were analysed using multivariate statistical techniques.

  • Information media, trust newspaper, trust television

The study shows that people’s trust in the media, their use of the media and their trust in political institutions (European Parliament), depend on the diffusion of social capital. As noted by Pichler and Wallace (2007), in the countries where formal and informal social capital is most widespread, there is more trust among the people in some of the media. In contrast, in countries characterised by low levels of formal social capital, people place more trust in other media; for example, in Nordic and in Western-Central areas, people have a greater preference for newspapers, while in the Balkan areas people have a greater preference for television. Clearly when the social capital is more widespread, the use of the media influences people’s trust in the European Parliament.

  • Internet use, media influence, civic engagement

This analysis helps to highlight what types of media contribute to increased civic engagement and stresses the importance of widespread social capital.

Carradore-Media trust, social capital and institutional trust in Europe-220.pdf

Studying Twitter conversations as (dynamic) graphs: visualization and structural comparison

Cornelius Puschmann, Katrin Weller, Evelyn Dröge

Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf, Germany

Relevance & Research Question:

Our contribution investigates the potential of graph analysis and visualization for the study of Twitter communication, specifically around events such as academic conferences, political discourse and natural disasters, and provides concrete examples where Twitter conversations under a common hashtag are carried out over a prolonged period of time and with shifting communicative dynamics. Our goal is to assess the potential of graph analysis for the diachronic study of Twitter and in specific relation to retweeting and @-messaging (as opposed to simply graphing who is following whom), in order to better understand the communicative dynamics of event-related discourse and the role of individual participants in these conversations. The presentation is the result of an ongoing collaborative study undertaken by members of the Junior Researchers Group "Science and the Internet" (http://nfgwin.uni-duesseldorf.de/) together with Dr. Axel Bruns and Dr. Jean Burgess, Queensland University of Technology (http://www.mappingonlinepublics.net/)

Methods & Data:

The poster (and ideally a projector to show a dynamic graph visualization) will contain graph and subgraph visualizations of several hashtagged events on Twitter:

  • academic conferences (#mla09, #www2010)
  • political discourse (#s21)
  • natural disasters (#gldfloods)

The Twitter data was retrieved via TwapperKeeper (twapperkeeper.com), processed with R (r-project.org) and visualized with Gephi. (gephi.org) Source code and step-by-step instructions will be provided.


Our main goal is to demonstrate the potential of graph visualization for the study of event-related Twitter communication and to provide a concrete implementation that allows the onlooker to see large-scale effects in a complex diachronic interaction. In addition, the structural characteristics of the discourses over time (How do communicative dynamics differ between and academic conference and a discussion of a political event? Who are important communicators?) will also be addressed. However, the methodological aspect will be our focal point.

Added Value:

Uses of graph visualization to explore Twitter conversations are conceivable outside of academic contexts.

Further information:

The blog posts below provide a brief description of our technical approach.

Dynamic graph visualization of Twitter RTs and @s with R and Gephi


Static graph visualization of Twitter RTs and @s with R and Gephi


Puschmann-Studying Twitter conversations as-216.pdf

The Attitudes of Potential Patients Toward Internet Based Information and Intervention Supplies

Christiane Eichenberg1, Georg Blokus1, Elmar Braehler2

1University of Cologne, Germany; 2University Leipzig, Germany

Communication serves as integral part of every psychotherapeutic treatment.

Consequently, in the last decade modern information and communication

technologies in the psychotherapeutic context gained in importance. How

important are internet based therapeutic information and intervention

supplies for potential patients and how are they appraised in case of being

already known or used?

In the course of a representative study the health-related internet use

behavior of N = 2.411 Germans was examined. There was a focus on the usage

of psychosocial self-help and counseling services in the past and

(potentially) in the future. 63.5% of German Internet users search for

medical information on the Internet. Still physicians, psychologists,

pharmacists, family members and friends have a greater impact on health

behavior than the Internet. 54.1% of German Internet users are not informed

about the possibilities of psychosocial online counseling. Nevertheless they

would “maybe” use the Internet in the future. Those 2.2% who already used

Internet in case of psychosocial problems are “content” with the service.

In fact new media did not find their way into psychotherapy and counseling

as far as in our daily lives yet. Opposite to this, in the total population

dominates a general willingness to demand psychosocial online counseling in

potential future cases. Especially in the field of virtual realities there

is also high potential for developing therapy programs for the treatment of

a variety of phobic disorders.

Eichenberg-The Attitudes of Potential Patients Toward Internet Based Information and Intervention Supplies-192.pptx

Effectiveness and consequences of various recruitment methods in psychological research: case study.

Małgorzata Półtorak1,2

1Warsaw University, Poland; 2IIBR (Gemius Group), Poland

Relevance & Research Question:

Most often, psychological studies participants are recruited with help of some selected organisations (universities, hospitals etc.). Usually they are invited to the study in direct face to face contact. Online research and recruitment are rare, partly due to the questioned validity caused be perceived too big anonymity.

Direct personal recruitment enables easy verification of participants identity and tend to better engage them. Yet, due to time and money limitations, it is often restricted only to few sources of participants that lead to too high level of sample homogeneity. Moreover, the results may be affected by perceived researcher's expectations and/or social desirability effects.

For my doctoral study I decided on wider range of recruitment methods. The important questions to be addressed for the use of this and future studies were about the usefulness and validity of this approach, i.e.: (1) effectiveness in terms of gathering possibly numerous and diversified sample, (2) reliability and similarity of results for various sub-samples.

Methods & Data:

The respondents were couples expecting their first babies. They were filling in a profiling survey and psychological questionnaires (concerning their personal and relationship traits) online. They were recruited directly offline (at courses for pregnant couples and at trade fair with articles for babies) and indirectly online (mainly with the use of Market Research Access Panels, announcements on online forums and by on-site pop-up invitations). All together a few thousand people became invited.


(1) Direct personal invitations were more effective in terms that they let more precisely reach the target group and they resulted in lower drop-out. However, due to the easily achieved scale effect, still indirect online recruitment provided the majority of the final sample. It also very much helped to obtain its higher diversity. (2) The data collected thanks to direct vs intermediated invitations did not differ significantly neither in terms of reliability nor in terms of average levels of the variables measured.

Added Value:

Conclusions from the analysis may help to resolve the mistrust toward Internet research and encourage to use wider range of contact channels with participants in psychological studies.

Półtorak-Effectiveness and consequences of various recruitment methods-222.pdf

Internet source trustworthiness and its impact on political evaluations

Alberto Fuchslocher, Nicole Krämer

Universität Duisburg-Essen, Germany

Relevance & Research Question:

Since the beginning of political communication research, communication scholars have sought to explain voter behavior and the influence of mass media on it. According to the social psychological model applied in politics, voter behavior is determined by the long- term factor party identification and the short-term factors issue orientation and candidate image. This raises the question, to what extent can negative media coverage about candidates influence political parties evaluations. Based on Hovland and Weis (1951) research findings concerning media credibility even unreliable sources can induce attitude change towards political propaganda. The following study explores the influence of unfavorable Internet articles about candidates on their political party evaluation depending on source credibility.

Methods & Data:

The experimental design consisted in a 3 factorial mixed design with source credibility (low vs. high) and proximity to political party ideology (low vs. high) as between subject and politician revaluation as a within subject factor. 100 Participant took part in the study. After assessing the evaluation baseline of fictive candidates and political parties, participants were presented one online article from a credible and non-credible source containing different negative information (corruption vs. abstraction of public funds) regarding two political candidates. Subsequently, participant’s evaluations of candidates and political parties were assessed again.


The results show that especially the politician and political party being close to participant’s ideology were influenced by the negative information. Furthermore, source credibility had no impact on politician and political parties evaluation, neither for the ideologically close nor for the ideologically distant politicians and political parties. No difference between employed negative information on politician and political party evaluations were found.

Added value:

Negative media coverage about a politician can certainly affect politicians image and the reputation of an associated political party. Furthermore, the persuasive influence of negative information about a politician seems to depend less on source credibility but rather on the partisan concordance with political party ideology. According to these findings, the impact of Internet news on political evaluations seems to be restricted to situational factors like political party properties.

Fuchslocher-Internet source trustworthiness and its impact on political evaluations-178.pdf

Using online interviews with young people

Angelica B. Ortiz de Gortari, Griffiths Mark D.

Nottingham Trent University, United Kingdom

Relevance & Research Questions

The use of online methods for exploring online phenomena seems to enhance research since the method parallels the setting under investigation. The proposed roundtable will cover practical online methodological issues observed while carrying out online interviews with young and avid technology users. Different aspects will be discussed: Part 1 Recruiting and performing the interview: (i) Considerations when recruiting participants online (ii) How to establish rapport with the interviewee, and (iii) The types of questions that are useful to use in online interviews. Part 2 Reliability and ethical issues of the study: (i) How to cope with identity issues online, (ii) Particular ethical issues when using online interviews, and (iii) How to follow up and get feedback on the research.

Methods & Data

In-depth interviews were conducted on 42 frequent video game players aged between 15 and 21 years. 32 of the interviews were done through instant messaging systems, mainly MSN Messenger. Participants were recruited through video game forums and the results were published in a blog. The study examined how video game playing can influence players during the game and afterwards resulting in what the researchers have called ‘The Game Transfer Phenomena’ (GTP). GTP occurs when video games’ elements are associated with real life elements triggering thoughts, sensations and behaviors in the players.


Thematic analysis showed that many players experienced GTP, where players appeared to integrate elements of video game playing into their real lives. These GTP were then classified as either intentional or automatic experiences. Results also showed that players used video games for interacting with others as an amusement complement, modeling or mimicking video game content, and daydreaming about video games. Furthermore, some video game players have experienced intrusive thoughts, sensations, impulses, reflexes, optical illusions, and dissociations.

Added Value

An analysis of the online research methods used in the Game Transfer Phenomenon study shows the value of online interviews when exploring young peoples’ virtual experiences. The analysis also shows how to affront challenges and limitations when carrying out online interviews with young people.

Ortiz de Gortari-Using online interviews with young people-228.pdf

Sampling v. Scale: An investigation the tension between convenience sampling, response rates, probability and coverage

Philip Garland

SurveyMonkey, United States of America

Relevance & Research Question

Survey researchers have been forced—by time and budget constraints—to rely on a slew of sampling methods to estimate population parameters. To be valid, sampling procedures must a) have nearly 100% population coverage b) ensure equal chance of selection, and c) feature reasonable response rates. Convenience samples have long been considered inadequate for serious research but collecting opinions from probability samples now takes longer than conveniently interviewing millions of people.

Increasingly, RDD telephone sampling now features response rates below 20%. Moreover, the decrease in landline telephony and the corresponding rise in mobile have put pressure on the claim of near total coverage. Though all online interviewing relies on convenience sampling, it is arguable that people only answer their phones to take surveys (that are a part of RDD studies) when it is convenient for them—a group that continues to shrink.

Methods & Data

This paper investigates whether volume-based approaches to collecting opinions are reasonable substitutes for probability sampling. To do so, we exposed Gallup’s long-used, well documented, United States Presidential approval rating question to a random subset of people who recently completed a survey for one of SurveyMonkey’s seven million survey creators. We presented the question to roughly 10,000 survey takers per day from June 10, 2010 to July 29, 2010. In total, 87, 308 people answered the question.


The results track Gallup’s daily approval numbers within the reported margin of error nearly each day that the test ran without mimicking Gallup’s use of statistical weighting. A closer look reveals that coverage and response rate were respectable relative to those of probability studies. Specifically, respondents were from 8,300 of 19,000 American cities (43%) which approaches the proportion of U.S. households with a landline telephone (60%). Moreover, the respondents yielded an average daily response rate of 46%--more than double that of a typical telephone survey.

Added Value

These findings shed light on recent interest by market researchers in gathering data from technology and social networking sources that have access to extremely large and diverse pools of people and can ask questions of them for virtually no cost.

Garland-Sampling v Scale-219.pptx

Educational Beliefs - wordfield and relations to social software

Timo van Treeck

Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf, Germany

Relevance & Research Question:

Connections between teaching orientations and quality of student learning are an often claimed thesis (Kember and Gow 1994). But there are many problems regarding this research:

a) the construct of teaching orientations can be found in a vast word-field of concepts regarding matters of teaching, which are often not well differentiated from each other e.g teaching beliefs / teaching conceptions / teaching approaches (Pajares 1992, Lübeck 2010),

b) some concepts are under complex, as they only differ between teacher-centered and student-centered teaching,

c) research in Germany only focus on one of these concepts: teaching approaches.

Thesis of the here discussed research in progress is that not only quality of learning is influenced by educational beliefs but also the implementation of innovative learning-concepts, especially the use of social software. Regarding the latter it seems obvious that at least some aspects of student-centered-teaching (Barr and Tagg 1995) and principles of social-software do correlate with each other.

Therefore it is planned to answer the following questions:

a) What are elements of teaching beliefs of German academic teachers? How are these elements connected?

b) How are educational beliefs formed?

c) What are relations between beliefs and the use of innovative teaching concepts, e.g. social software?

Methods & Data:

The work examines educational beliefs of teachers and decision makers at universities. Based on problem-based interviews, typologies shall be developed and the mentioned research questions answered. In a first step the word field regarding educational beliefs has to be outlined.


Educational Beliefs do compete with other terms describing some kind of espoused theory of teaching. The relation between these theories and the learning-process of the students is often complicated and not well differentiated. This field of terms will be displayed as well as possible relations between the use of innovative-teaching/social-software and educational beliefs.

Added Value:

The shift from teaching to learning is one central paradigm of modern higher education teaching. Data on belief-systems should be helpful to support this shift in workshops. Discovering relations between the use of innovative teaching concepts and belief systems may support enhancement of education.

The influence of the direction of Likert-type scales in web surveys on response behavior in different respondent groups

Florian Keusch

WU Wien, Austria

(a) Relevance & Research Question:

Attitude measurement in web surveys mostly relies on requiring respondents to indicate their agreement or disagreement with each of several items under the same Likert-type scale in a grid format. As it is known that respondents do not only attend to the words that convey the questions but also to the visual language of a questionnaire (i.e., format and shape of response scales, verbal and numerical labels, spacing, positioning, and order of response options) it is essential to understand how this effects the response process. Although there is no conclusive evidence about the influence of the direction of extreme point labelling (e.g., Belson, 1966; Friedman et al., 1993; Salzberger & Koller, 2010; Weng & Cheng, 2000), applying the “near means related” heuristic (Tourangeau et al., 2004; 2007) to horizontal Likert-type scales would suggest that the proximity between the item and the positive anchor of the scale in a agree-to-disagree format would lead to different results than a reversed scale (disagree-to-agree).

(b) Methods & Data:

In three independent web surveys with online panel members, students, and professionals respondents were assigned to one of four treatment groups. The direction of Likert-type scales as well as the use of numerical labelling of scale points was experimentally varied in a full-factorial 2 (agree-to-disagree vs. disagree-to-agree) x 2 (with numerical labels vs. without numerical labels) design. The influence of scale presentation was measured on different indicators of data quality (response latency, item omission, non-differentiation in grids, response sets).

(c) Results:

The first results show that especially online panel members are very prone to changes in the direction of Likert-type scales as they show a strong tendency to the left-hand side of the scale regardless of its actual direction.

(d) Added Value:

This study aims to bring forward how the direction of Likert-type scales in grid formats influences the response behavior of respondents from various background and with different levels of experience with web surveys.

Keusch-The influence of the direction of Likert-type scales-155.pdf

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