The factorial survey is a method used to study the social causes of human judgements. Its main components are the vignettes: short fictive descriptions of social situations to be evaluated by the respondents, embedded in a survey. Vignettes contain variable elements whose contents are randomly assigned. This makes it possible to test whether changes in these elements cause a change in the respondents’ evaluation. Among its strengths, the factorial survey combines the internal validity of experimental designs with the high external validity of survey research. This method has long been virtually ignored by the community of sociologists, notwithstanding its several advantages. However, in the last ten years a growing number of studies based on this approach covering very different fields have been published. Taking its cue from the most recent debate in the literature, this chapter presents a critical evaluation of the pros and the cons of the factorial survey, in order to help in taking full advantage of this approach, and reducing the negative impact of its methodological limitations.

The Factorial Survey in Social Research: A Critical Evaluation of Its Pros and Cons

Lorenzo Todesco
2017

Abstract

The factorial survey is a method used to study the social causes of human judgements. Its main components are the vignettes: short fictive descriptions of social situations to be evaluated by the respondents, embedded in a survey. Vignettes contain variable elements whose contents are randomly assigned. This makes it possible to test whether changes in these elements cause a change in the respondents’ evaluation. Among its strengths, the factorial survey combines the internal validity of experimental designs with the high external validity of survey research. This method has long been virtually ignored by the community of sociologists, notwithstanding its several advantages. However, in the last ten years a growing number of studies based on this approach covering very different fields have been published. Taking its cue from the most recent debate in the literature, this chapter presents a critical evaluation of the pros and the cons of the factorial survey, in order to help in taking full advantage of this approach, and reducing the negative impact of its methodological limitations.
Advances in Sociology Research. Volume 23
Nova Science Publishers
1
29
978-1-53612-718-8
Todesco, Lorenzo
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/2318/1653303
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