How to Get People to Answer Honestly

19 Feb 2010 - 3:57pm
4 years ago
14 replies
2167 reads
Don Habas
2008

I'm designing a long application for a financial product. We need people to answer some personal questions honestly (underwriting seems to find this important). Before people start the application, does anyone have any tips on how to pre-condition users so they are in more of an "honest state-of-mind")? I have a few books that discuss this, but not on-hand. Any suggestions?

Thanks.

Comments

19 Feb 2010 - 4:02pm
Mark Schraad
2006

Not having any idea the context or what you are asking (so your mileage may
vary)...

I have had great luck with setting the stage in interviews for folks to tell
a story. Especially when we can get that person's story to reveal the
answers to those questions. I think often times the worse thing you can do
is to ask them the questions directly.

Mark

On Fri, Feb 19, 2010 at 2:57 PM, Don Habas <dhabas1 at yahoo.com> wrote:

> I'm designing a long application for a financial product. We need people
> to answer some personal questions honestly (underwriting seems to find this
> important). Before people start the application, does anyone have any tips
> on how to pre-condition users so they are in more of an "honest
> state-of-mind")? I have a few books that discuss this, but not on-hand.
> Any suggestions?
>
> Thanks.
>
>
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
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19 Feb 2010 - 4:13pm
Don Habas
2008

A lot of questions about their relating to health and risk (certain
activities, tobacco use, etc). Many people would probably expect
that price they pay would be impacted by their answers. Sorry I'm
being vague, but I can't really discuss too much detail here.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
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19 Feb 2010 - 4:20pm
Caroline Jarrett
2007

Don Habas

> I'm designing a long application for a financial product. We need
> people to answer some personal questions honestly (underwriting seems
> to find this important). Before people start the application, does
> anyone have any tips on how to pre-condition users so they are in more
> of an "honest state-of-mind")? I have a few books that discuss this,
> but not on-hand. Any suggestions?

Our book: "Forms that work: Designing web forms for usability" has a chapter
on how to persuade people to answer, and specifically discusses issues of
trust and honesty.

Caroline Jarrett
www.formsthatwork.com

19 Feb 2010 - 4:23pm
Mark Schraad
2006

no problem on the vagueness...

I might suggest have some casual conversations with both docs and nurses
about how they talk with clients. This is not for process or method, but to
set realistic expectations. I think you will find that people aren't wholy
forthright even when their health is at stake... so in a survey or fact
finding situation you will have to work even harder to get honest answers.
Some much sense of self goes into revealing patterns and habits of behavior.
And I'm not trying to tell you to trick them by any stretch, but make it
easy for them to detach or distance themselves from what they are revealing.
Not an easy task.

Mark

On Fri, Feb 19, 2010 at 7:13 AM, Don Habas <dhabas1 at yahoo.com> wrote:

> A lot of questions about their relating to health and risk (certain
> activities, tobacco use, etc). Many people would probably expect
> that price they pay would be impacted by their answers. Sorry I'm
> being vague, but I can't really discuss too much detail here.
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=49514
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

19 Feb 2010 - 4:35pm
Don Habas
2008

Thanks Caroline, but I'm in a pinch an was looking for a few quick
examples.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
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19 Feb 2010 - 9:56pm
Gino Rodrigues
2008

Kim Goodwin describes on Designing for the Digital Age a practice to
avoid self-reporting error. Case-specific questions consist of asking
for a specific story on a topic. It´s like, instead of asking "do you
shop online?", try "tell me about your last online shopping
experience". There are interesting examples on the book where
case-specific questions revealed interesting contradictions. Well,
this is not exactly about honesty ...

You could also use a transparent communication. Does the use of
tobacco really impact the price? How could you communicate it, at
least to a certain depth? How exactly does the answer impact the price
or the service? Is a dishonest answer going to be visible as such in
the future? This is like seeding honesty =)

And It would be very helpful to spend a little time with at least 2 or
3 prospective user informally, and ask their concerns about the
personal questions you have. This can be fast and extremely
informative.

What do you think ?

19 Feb 2010 - 10:35pm
Gino Rodrigues
2008

You won´t believe this, but right after writing here, I followed some
links on another topic to webpagesthatsuck.com, and ended up on
havenworks.com. Contemplating the unbelievable clutter, I found the
following text, which can be something to at least think about (or
worry about) in your case. Data-mining involved ...

"Insurers shun those taking certain meds:
How health insurers secretly blacklist those with certain ailments."
... "Trying to buy health insurance on your own and have gallstones?
You'll automatically be denied coverage. Rheumatoid arthritis?
Automatic denial. Severe acne? Probably denied. Do you take metformin,
a popular drug for diabetes? Denied. Use the anti-clotting drug Plavix
or Seroquel, prescribed for anti-psychotic or sleep problems? Forget
about it." ... "This confidential information on some insurers'
practices is available on the Web -- if you know where to look." ...
"What's more, you can discover that if you lie to an insurer about
your medical history and drug use, you will be rejected because
data-mining companies sell information to insurers about your health,
including detailed usage of prescription drugs." ... "To make sure
that applicants are not lying, insurers hire a data-gathering service
-- Medical Information Bureau, Milliman's Intelliscript or Ingenix
Medpoint." ... "Intelliscript and Medpoint do computerized searches of
a person's drug use, gleaned from pharmacy benefits managers and other
databases." ... "Last year, the Federal Trade Commission accused both
companies of violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act by not offering
to provide consumers with information about them. The companies agreed
to settlements in which they promised to let people see their personal
information."

Source:
http://www.havenworks.com/ (March 29, 2009 News)

20 Feb 2010 - 5:18pm
Charlie Kreitzberg
2008

Don Habas said that " You won´t believe this, but right after writing here,
I followed some links ... and ended up on havenworks.com."

I love havenworks.com and use it as an example in seminars and webinars to
introduce the concept of information architecture. People get it fast. Hope
the site never goes away.

Charlie

============================
Charles B. Kreitzberg, Ph.D.
CEO, Cognetics Corporation
www.cognetics.com
============================

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Gino
Rodrigues
Sent: Friday, February 19, 2010 10:35 PM
To: Don Habas
Cc: discuss at ixda.org
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] How to Get People to Answer Honestly

You won´t believe this, but right after writing here, I followed some
links on another topic to webpagesthatsuck.com, and ended up on
havenworks.com. Contemplating the unbelievable clutter, I found the
following text, which can be something to at least think about (or
worry about) in your case. Data-mining involved ...

"Insurers shun those taking certain meds:
How health insurers secretly blacklist those with certain ailments."
... "Trying to buy health insurance on your own and have gallstones?
You'll automatically be denied coverage. Rheumatoid arthritis?
Automatic denial. Severe acne? Probably denied. Do you take metformin,
a popular drug for diabetes? Denied. Use the anti-clotting drug Plavix
or Seroquel, prescribed for anti-psychotic or sleep problems? Forget
about it." ... "This confidential information on some insurers'
practices is available on the Web -- if you know where to look." ...
"What's more, you can discover that if you lie to an insurer about
your medical history and drug use, you will be rejected because
data-mining companies sell information to insurers about your health,
including detailed usage of prescription drugs." ... "To make sure
that applicants are not lying, insurers hire a data-gathering service
-- Medical Information Bureau, Milliman's Intelliscript or Ingenix
Medpoint." ... "Intelliscript and Medpoint do computerized searches of
a person's drug use, gleaned from pharmacy benefits managers and other
databases." ... "Last year, the Federal Trade Commission accused both
companies of violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act by not offering
to provide consumers with information about them. The companies agreed
to settlements in which they promised to let people see their personal
information."

Source:
http://www.havenworks.com/ (March 29, 2009 News)
________________________________________________________________
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19 Feb 2010 - 9:10pm
Lesia
2008

Hmmm.. I haven't had this situation come up but, one thing I would do
would be to preface the form by using a very calm but official tone of
voice and making sure it was very clear that their answers would
remain confidential (?) ... and clearly give them a reason to _want_
to answer honestly. Why could it actually benefit them to answer
honestly? Etc.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=49514

23 Feb 2010 - 12:45am
Diana Wynne
2008

Funny, I had the same queasy instinct as Lesia.

Don, from what you've described, the issue may not be encouraging an
honest state of mind, but whether respondents worry there will be
consequences for providing accurate information.

For example several years ago, my HMO invited me to participate in
genetic research. But I have no confidence this information won't be
used in the future to discriminate against me and perhaps deny
coverage, so I declined. (For the record, I'm not aware of any genetic
health issues, aside from not being very trusting.)

One thing you could do is to allow respondents to answer in a way that
guarantees their anonymity but still tracks unique responses.

You might also look at survey design best practices as opposed to UX
design resources. Accurate self-reporting is always a challenge,
whether the group members are required to participate or have the
ability to opt out.

Diana

On Fri, Feb 19, 2010 at 10:10 AM, Lesia Payne <lesia3 at gmail.com> wrote:
> Hmmm.. I haven't had this situation come up but, one thing I would do
> would be to preface the form by using a very calm but official tone of
> voice and making sure it was very clear that their answers would
> remain confidential (?) ... and clearly give them a reason to _want_
> to answer honestly. Why could it actually benefit them to answer
> honestly? Etc.
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=49514
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

23 Feb 2010 - 4:29am
RyanaChan
2006

Interesting thread.

I think it is just about talking skill.
1. Explain the purpose why you ask honestly.
2. Find all possible doubts, and try to dispel them.

Ryana Chen

24 Feb 2010 - 12:21am
Aneesh Karve
2010

Nielsen outlines 4 methods for communicating trustworthiness
(http://www.useit.com/alertbox/990307.html):
1 - Design quality
2 - Up-front disclosure
3 - Comprehensive, correct, and current
4 - Connected to the rest of the Web

I would add, for legal text and instructions:
5 - Brevity

http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2010/01/31/easy__true/
cites research by Alter & Oppenheimer that indicates the following:
6 - Easy-to-read fonts encourage honest responses to questionnaires.

That said, if you desire a careful, planned response:
7 - Reducing the fluency of the text, via an unclear font or reduced
contrast, encourages more careful answers.

There's more in the Globe article on fluency and disfluency. I
highly recommend it.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=49514

26 Feb 2010 - 7:55am
whitneyq
2010

Have you looked at BJ Fogg's work on persuasion- - *
http://captology.stanford.edu/resources.html

*There is some good material on credibilty and how to use it to persuade.

You might also look up Florian Eggers work. He did some work around trust in
ecommerce sites several years ago. Here's one paper:
portal.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=633352

On Tue, Feb 23, 2010 at 4:21 PM, Aneesh Karve <aneesh.karve at gmail.com>wrote:

> Nielsen outlines 4 methods for communicating trustworthiness
> (http://www.useit.com/alertbox/990307.html):
> 1 - Design quality
> 2 - Up-front disclosure
> 3 - Comprehensive, correct, and current
> 4 - Connected to the rest of the Web
>
> I would add, for legal text and instructions:
> 5 - Brevity
>
> http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2010/01/31/easy__true/
> cites research by Alter & Oppenheimer that indicates the following:
> 6 - Easy-to-read fonts encourage honest responses to questionnaires.
>
> That said, if you desire a careful, planned response:
> 7 - Reducing the fluency of the text, via an unclear font or reduced
> contrast, encourages more careful answers.
>
> There's more in the Globe article on fluency and disfluency. I
> highly recommend it.
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=49514
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

--
Whitney Quesenbery
www.wqusability.com

Storytelling in User Experience Design
www.rosenfeldmedia.com/books/storytelling

26 Feb 2010 - 8:15am
William Hudson
2009

Don -

Here's an interesting article on how people's perception of being
watched affected their behaviour. I admit that it's not a web-based
study, but there may be more on this out there:
http://rsbl.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/2/3/412.full

Regards,

William Hudson
Syntagm Ltd
Design for Usability
UK 01235-522859
World +44-1235-522859
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mailto:william.hudson at syntagm.co.uk
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Syntagm is a limited company registered in England and Wales (1985).
Registered number: 1895345. Registered office: 10 Oxford Road, Abingdon
OX14 2DS.

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-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Don
Habas
Sent: 19 February 2010 20:57
To: IXDA
Subject: [IxDA Discuss] How to Get People to Answer Honestly

I'm designing a long application for a financial product. We need
people to answer some personal questions ...

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