New methods for inquiring general population mobility. The example of an on-line questionnaire enhanced by interactive maps
7th Conference of the European Survey Research Association
2017-07-17 / 2017-07-21
map, Mobility, response format & behaviour, space-set, ELIPSS
ELIPSS is an online survey instrument for the scientific community; it allows researchers to innovate both in terms of content and of method. Among the recent surveys, the “Mobilities and spatial experiences over the life course (Mobilities)” one proposes a new way for outlining national and international mobility behaviors. To achieve its ambitious goals, ELIPSS devised an original design strategy based on the use of maps. In the present paper we will present the rationale for the survey design and critically address its results. The Mobilities project proposes a new theoretical construct, the ‘space-set’, to better account for behavioral and attitudinal differences in an age of increased spatial mobility. Space-sets designate the entanglement of geographical places where individuals spend or have spent their social life. They are composed by people’s objective and subjective memories and experiences stemming from past and present practices of spatial mobility. A space-set can also be conceived as a network qualified by its structural features: size, range and focus. To operationalize the space-set concept, a survey has been conceived and administered to the probability-based ELIPSS panel. For its pilot phase, the panel sample was composed of 1,000 individuals representative of the French population aged 18-75. The panel members have been equipped with a 7’ tablet and with a 3G subscription to answer a monthly questionnaire. To make space-sets emerge, part of the survey consisted in asking the panelists to identify the places they visited and thus constitute an exhaustive networked catalogue. Some major limitations and constraints due to the ELIPSS panel specificities played a major role in designing the interface. Besides the 30 minutes maximal duration of the survey and the heterogeneity in digital proficiency of the panelists, a main constraint was their geographical knowledge. To overcome these limitations, we leveraged on the visual appeal of a map: the interface invited the users to select the French national departments (for nation-wide space-sets) and the countries (for world-wide space-sets) visited. By adopting this strategy we tried to mitigate the memory efforts demanded to the user, leaving open to him/her the way to elicit the places he/she visited during his/her life. The respondent could select directly on a map the visited places and was asked to characterize them afterwards. This response format has the advantage of bringing playfulness in the survey settings, creating a more robust engagement of respondents. To fully address the efficiency of our map based enquiry method, we will present and discuss, in the last part of the paper, the navigation and behavioral data we collected. For example, we extensively followed the user journey in managing the interface: from the use of features like the search engine for retrieving a specific country to the collection of trials and errors. Furthermore, a qualitative analysis of users’ comments has been carried out. The discussion we are proposing can be valuable for future research projects and interface implementations of innovative quantitative survey.