City Research Online

Where Am I? A Meta-Analysis of Experiments on the Effects of Progress Indicators for Web Surveys

Villar, A., Callegaro, M. & Yang, Y. (2013). Where Am I? A Meta-Analysis of Experiments on the Effects of Progress Indicators for Web Surveys. Social Science Computer Review, 31(6), pp. 744-762. doi: 10.1177/0894439313497468


The use of progress indicators seems to be standard in many online surveys. Researchers include them in surveys in the hope they will help reduce drop-off rates. However, there is no consensus in the literature regarding their effects. In this meta-analysis, we analyzed 32 randomized experiments comparing drop-off rates of an experimental group who completed an online survey in which a progress indicator was shown to drop-off rates of a control group to whom the progress indicator was not shown. In all the studies, a drop-off was defined as a discontinuance of the survey (at any point) after it has begun, resulting in failure to complete the survey. Three types of progress indicators were analyzed: constant, fast-to-slow, and slow-to-fast. Our results show that, overall, using a constant progress indicator does not significantly help reduce drop-offs and that effectiveness of the progress indicator varies depending on the speed of indicator: Fast-to-slow indicators reduced drop-offs, whereas slow-to-fast indicators increased drop-offs. We also found that among the studies in which a small incentive was promised, showing a constant progress indicator increased the drop-off rate. These findings question the common belief that progress indicators help reduce drop-off rates.

Publication Type: Article
Publisher Keywords: progress indicators, progress bar, survey break-off, drop-off rate, web surveys
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs > Sociology & Criminology
[thumbnail of Social Science Computer Review-2013-Villar-744-62.pdf]
Text - Published Version
Available under License : See the attached licence file.

Download (261kB) | Preview
[thumbnail of Creative Commons  Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported]
Text (Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported) - Other
Download (208kB) | Preview


Add to AnyAdd to TwitterAdd to FacebookAdd to LinkedinAdd to PinterestAdd to Email


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics

Actions (login required)

Admin Login Admin Login