Publication Date


Document Type


Committee Members

Nathan A. Bowling, Ph.D. (Advisor); Scott Watamaniuk, Ph.D. (Committee Member); Jason Huang , Ph.D. (Committee Member); Debra Steele-Johnson, Ph.D. (Committee Member)

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Careless responding (CR), also called insufficient effort responding (IER), occurs when survey participants respond to items without regard to item content. The presence of careless responding threatens the validity of inferences made from self-report data (Huang et al., 2012; Huang et al., 2015), thus careless responding must be identified and removed to trust inferences made based on self-report survey data. Using a sample of 59 undergraduate students, this study uses eye-tracking data to assess the validity of existing careless responding indices and to provide insight into the nature of careless responding. Although influenced by measurement error in the eye-tracking indices, by directly measuring careless responding through eye-tracking this study provided insights into the fundamental nature of careless responding. First, this study proposed and provided limited support for a proposed process by which survey respondents carelessly respond by bypassing the normal steps of responding to a survey item and skipping directly from item presentation to response selection. Second, eye-tracking data revealed that careless responding can occur on an item-by-item basis rather than a phenomenon that necessarily lasts across the entire survey. Third, results from this study suggested that careless responding can be measured with some accuracy by both existing and eye-tracking indices. Finally, the eye-tracking data revealed that careless responding is a varied behavior. In other words, survey respondents vary in the way they reduce the effort of responding to an item while still providing a response. In conclusion, this study provides an initial investigation of how survey respondents carelessly respond, and which indices might be most successful at identifying careless responding.

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Department or Program

Department of Psychology

Year Degree Awarded


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.