A Simple and Easy guide to understand: When and How to use Surveys in Psychology

Blocksurvey blog author
Jul 10, 2023 · 4 mins read

Just like how a chef and a nutritionist go hand in hand in meal planning and in balancing physical health, surveys and psychological research go hand in hand and play a similar role in mental health.

In psychology and psychological research, surveys play an indispensable role and contribute to the researcher’s way more than anything by easing their workload and pressure off their shoulders.

But first, what is the role of a survey in psychology?

In psychology, the major role of the practitioners involves understanding different types of people and analyzing their thoughts and behaviors. This isn’t restricted and limited to certain places or countries alone, as the applicability of psychological studies is beneficial in all types of contexts.

Oftentimes, this process is tedious because of the method in which the practitioners are asked to analyze the behavioral patterns of people across the globe. And such surveys are an effective research tool to collect data and a great deal of information from the comfort of their home through their fingertips.

When to use a survey method in psychology

Can you graduate without giving exams? We know it sounds absurd. Pursuing psychology without collecting and probing people’s behaviors and traits is similar to graduating without taking exams.

Here are a few reasons why and when one should use the survey method in psychology and psychological research:

  1. Surveys in psychology can be used to inspect the characteristics, traits, and behavioral patterns of other people.
  2. They can be used to collect opinions from different sets of people at the same time.
  3. Surveys help analyze and dive deep into personality traits by providing them with a hypothetical scenario.
  4. Surveys collect information about different kinds of experiences from different categories of people
  5. Surveys can be used to analyze the decision-making skills of an individual as it can highly vary in accordance with their environment, especially by the people around them.
  6. Using surveys can assist with the inspection and probing through the current mindset of the respondent based on his/her responses.

Examples of survey methods in psychology

As demography plays a major role in forming and reforming the personality traits and core values, demographic questions can be included in surveys such as age, ethnicity, and employment status.

There are many such surveys that are used in the psychological discipline. Here is a curated list of several methods to conduct survey research. And few examples you can try including;

  • Anxiety scales
  • Happiness surveys
  • Depression surveys
  • Relationship surveys
  • Personality quizzes

Psychological surveys can also contain generic questions that deal with procrastination, eating habits, and the motivation levels of the respondents.

Standard designs and types involved in psychological research

To address and analyze a particular issue, or to collect data on specific issues, there are standardized designs that will help you create your psychological survey research in the right and the usual prescribed way. The below mentioned are a few common survey standard designs,

1. Cross-sectional surveys - This involves the collection of data at a specific time from a specific population.

2. Repeated surveys - These are similar to cross-sectional studies and the audience is surveyed more frequently i.e. on a quarterly, monthly, and on annual basis with the same questionnaires.

3. Panel survey - In this psychological research method, the data is collected from the same audience over and over at different time duration and periods which measures their emotions, behavior patterns, etc. It is used to understand how the audience’s attitude changes over time.

Common distribution points of psychological surveys:

  • These surveys can be distributed through the mail (email and snail mail) and are conducted through feedback forms, alumni questionnaires, etc.
  • They may also be performed via telephone where the consumer is asked about product or service feedback.
  • You may also have come across online surveys that mostly focus on the user experience to make things even better.

Advantages and disadvantages

One of the primary advantages of a psychological survey is the fact that it can be conducted seamlessly online without needing to be physically present in front of the survey taker. For example, if you are looking for a therapist or other telehealth provider and your ideal therapist and provider lives quite some distance away from you, surveys and quizzes would be a great deal of help for your therapist or provider to at least have an idea about you before starting a session with you.

Other significant benefits of surveys in psychology

  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Less time consuming
  • Easy to create and collect data

That said, the disadvantages linked to surveys in psychology include:

  • Results that could potentially be biased and unrealistic, leading to low accuracy
  • Poor user interface as related to the platform upon which the survey is conducted
  • Limited choices in the survey that can mislead the actual outcome of the survey

How to use surveys in psychology

With a tailored design and well-structured questions, the survey would turn into a win. Surveys are usually administered through well-structured interviews, through self-introspection/ self-reports, and data that is collected virtually or in-person by questioning them about their experiences, opinions, areas of interest, etc.

Steps involved in psychology surveys:

  • Be clear about your variables before you begin (tip: test the survey out with a group of people to make sure that you are covering all possible bases)
  • Prepare a general hypothesis
  • Have a well-researched literature review
  • Design the survey with an easy and appealing interface
  • Have a clear set of participants and target audience
  • Conduct the survey and analyze the outcome

Tips to get your survey underway

Keep your survey short and brief, where the respondents spend no more than 10 minutes on answering the questions., the longer the time they spend, the more likely they are to skip providing answers, thereby providing you with survey results that have low accuracy. Ask some close-ended questions such as yes/no as they are easier and faster to attend to, as open-ended questions among the survey questions are likely said to limit the number of honest answers.

It’s time to get started on your psychology study

Be it an online questionnaire or an in-person one, only a valid and well-researched survey with the right questionnaires can provide reliable results. A proper procedure and deep analysis in hand can save a huge amount of your time by providing the expected and desired outcome.

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blog author description

Vimala Balamurugan

Vimala heads the Content and SEO Team at BlockSurvey. She is the curator of all the content that BlockSurvey puts out into the public domain. Blogging, music, and exploring new places around is how she spends most of her leisure time.


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