Behavioural science: The power of the single steer

Written by Tasmin Sibbald, Client and Operations Director

At Vypr, we differentiate ourselves from our competitors by grounding our methodology in Behavioural Science. This flows through from the methodology used for each steer, the way we create Private Demographics and how we incentivise our consumers to answer steers honestly. All of which are purposely thought through using Behavioural Science to ensure that you get as robust and reliable data as possible.

Those who have been involved in consumer research for many years (new Vypr Client Managers included!) are initially a little non-plussed by the Vypr methodology which uses single steers, as opposed to the traditional surveys that ask sequential questions. Research shows that traditional surveys tend to produce less accurate results. After several questions, consumers start to fatigue and their answers become less predictive of actual behaviour. They fall into ‘survey mode’ and acquiescence bias can creep in (so-called ‘yea-saying’); this path escalates as fatigue sets in as some consumers will agree just to get the interview ‘done’.

Habituation bias (where consumers provide the same answer to similar questions), is another risk of traditional interviews.  Use of single steers or a short number of steers, (perhaps using Vypr’s ‘Follow-On’ functionality) mitigates this risk.

Ye Li from the University of California and his colleagues conducted a study in 2021 into the effects of survey length on the quality of responses. 300 participants were shown 32 questions asking them to choose between two rewards that differed in value and time frame (e.g. $26.50 in 11 hours or $21.50 now). However, the information relating to the time frame of receiving the rewards were hidden (using Mouselab Web software). To reveal this information, participants had to hover their mouse over each box and this activity was tracked. This design meant that participants’ effort into their decisions could be quantified (i.e. hovering over the boxes for longer, indicating a more effortful decision). As well as tracking participants’ mouse movements, their choices were also recorded. Li found that the more questions asked, the less effort participants put into making their choices (from 8.8 opened boxes on Q1 to 4.9 open boxes on Q32).

In conclusion, at Vypr we pride ourselves on our Single steer approach. We have higher respondent engagement without that fatigue meaning it provides better data quality and most importantly, more robust results.

If you’d like to know more or have any questions, please get in touch with the helpdesk (using the chat box on the bottom right hand corner of the screen) who will be happy to chat through.


 Tasmin Sibbald, Client and Operations Director