Eliciting Subjective Expectations in Internet Surveys

by Adeline Delavande, Susann Rohwedder

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Individuals' subjective expectations are important in explaining heterogeneity in individual choices, but their elicitation poses challenges. In this paper, the authors present their findings from testing an innovative visual representation of an Internet survey in the context of individuals' Social Security expectations. Respondents were randomly divided into two groups: Half were administered the standard “percent chance” format; half were asked to allocate a total of 20 balls across seven bins to express what they believe the chances to be that their future Social Security benefits would fall into any one of those bins. The authors found that the main advantage of the visual format is that it generates usable answers for virtually all respondents. This suggests that the visual format is a viable alternative that leads to more complete data.

This paper series was made possible by the NIA funded RAND Center for the Study of Aging and the NICHD funded RAND Population Research Center.

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