How Visual Design Affects the Interpretability of Survey Questions
This chapter discusses the theoretical background of processing visual information. Preattentive processing occurs when respondents glance at a page and immediately recognize general features essential to making sense of the scene. During preattentive processing respondents selectively pick up on certain symbols, shapes, or other features of a page, which subconsciously attract attention. Visual processing of a questionnaire page involves three levels of processing. First, eyes preattentively organize the entire page into basic regions according to shared visual properties such as color and texture, a process that is called elemental organization. The second level is pattern recognition, in which figures are grouped together to be better understood and to speed up processing. Visual. Third, when the basic visual elements are perceived as aligned in a meaningful way, the respondent can then focuses attentively and get on with the response task.