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I'm trying to fill out a survey that asks me about features that should or should not be included in a smartphone app.

The actual questions are confidential, but it's in the style of a sentence like this:

"You can control the temperature of the room you're in"

followed by these options (of which you can choose one)

form to enter one preference per item; items "if this feature was part of the smartphone app" and "if this feature was NOT part of the smartphone app";  choices "I would like it", "I would expect it", "I would be neutral", "I would tolerate it", and "I would dislike it".

Assuming I'd choose "I would like it" for the second row. Does that mean find it positive that the feature is not part of the app, or rather that if it's not a part, I'd like it to become one? Similar with the "expect" answer. Would I expect the feature not to be part of the app, or would I expect it to be and miss it if it's not a feature?

I was sent the link by a "noreply@foo.bar" mail, so I don't know whom to ask. I'm passionate about the topic, though, and would like to answer this as precise as possible.

  • If this feature (You can control the temperature of the room you're in) was part of the smartphone app, I would like it. So, implicitly you are saying that you would find it positive to be a part of the app. – MegaMark Aug 12 '14 at 7:31
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    From the nature of the questions, I would say the former interpretation - "I would like it" would mean that you would be happy that it is not part of the application. Otherwise, it is effectively a re-wording of the first question. – Simon B Aug 12 '14 at 7:38
  • You know what... I didn't see he was referring to the bottom row... I agree with @SimonBarker. Oversight on my part. Good catch – MegaMark Aug 12 '14 at 7:45
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    If it were me, I wouldn’t get caught dead if-wasing. – tchrist Aug 13 '14 at 7:56
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Here goes-

I would like it- if the feature was NOT part of the smartphone app

Here you are indicating that you would like it if the feature were NOT present in your smartphone. That's it, end of story.

When you say-

"[...]or rather that if it's not a part, I'd like it to become one?"

Here you are implying that if the feature is not in the smartphone presently, you would like it if it were to be included. This corresponds with choosing "I would like it" for the first row.

Now, coming to your next question-

I would expect it- if the feature was part of the smartphone app

Here you mean to say that you expect the feature to be included in the smartphone app.

Similarly:

I would expect it- if the feature was NOT part of the smartphone app

As you would know, this means that you expect the feature not to be included in the smartphone.

Also, to add, if you select

"I would dislike it"

for

if this feature was NOT part of the smartphone app,

you mean to say that you would like the feature to be there in your smartphone, and you don't like the fact that it's not there. This is the answer to your last question-

[...]or would I expect it to be and miss it if it's not a feature?

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Let me start off by saying that the person who wrote these surveys really lacks in his or her abilities to write surveys.

Let's rephrase the headers left to right:

I would like it --> I would Love that
I would expect it --> I would Like that
I would be neutral --> I wouldn't Care
I would tolerate it --> I would Dislike that
I would dislike it --> I would Hate that

Alright, now with these new headings, hopefully the answer to your question becomes a little more self-evident.

"You can control the temperature of the room you're in"

Based on your selections, here's what the interpretation would be with the new column headers I've just provided,

If this feature was NOT part of the smartphone app
    -> I would Hate that

Column headers for survey design are usually done based on the first few questions, but are rarely double-checked to see if they make sense for later questions.

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Based on the construction of the survey, I think the most direct answer to your question is to answer in the "opposite" direction of your answer to the previous question.

As K points out, the survey is poorly constructed. Having worked on survey design, I can tell you that with the two questions they were trying to get a more precise measure regarding your preferences and a possible check if you were paying attention. The second question is intended to be the opposite of the first question, and thus, if you're being consistent your response should be the opposite of the first question. This is also known as a reverse-coded question (and they'll likely flip the scale of the second question when they analyze it).

Again, the practical response is to simply reverse your response to the previous question.

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