Abstract

One of the benefits of web-based research is the capacity to deliver video content directly to individual survey participants. However, yet to be investigated is whether the participant demographic and attitudinal characteristics are distorted when respondents are asked to view and respond to videos on their personal computers. To address this question, this research paper focuses on two potential types of selection bias introduced into web-based studies with video content: (1) that resulting from respondents’ differential ability to view videos; and (2) that resulting from demographic and motivational influences of adequate exposure to video content. Through a secondary analysis of two studies focusing on adult cigarette smokers living in the United States, this research paper investigates whether the ability to view videos differs between demographic groups, whether respondents who do not view videos for their full duration differ from those who view videos for an appropriate amount of time, and whether video characteristics influenced this relationship. Results show that age, education, sex, household internet access, and work status influence the likelihood of a respondent reporting an inability to view videos. In addition, age, employment status, and congeniality of and interest in issue topic affect adequate video viewing times. These outcomes suggest that although web-based studies offer many advantages, the inclusion of videos within these surveys has the potential to undermine the accuracy of study findings and distort the representative nature of the study sample. Recommendations for minimizing potential distortions are presented.

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