Using Loop and Merge to avoid repetition

There are often times in a questionnaire when the same items need to be presented repeatedly.  For example, maybe a set of group stereotype ratings need to be made for each of several groups;  self-ratings of personality attributes made when operating in each of several roles, or perhaps a respondent first indicates which of several conflicts they commonly have with their parents, and then we want to ask a series of common questions about only those conflict types they have experienced.

Some of these problems could be addressed by simply repeating the items by, for example, copying the Block of questions and then editing the lead-in stimuli or headings.  However, this makes the questionnaire unnecessarily long and clumsy to work with, and runs the risk of item edits leading to inconsistencies if not fully replicated through all copies. Presenting only some of the variations or randomising the order can also be done but becomes more and more clumsy.

Fortunately Qualtrics has a very handy feature called “Loop and Merge”.  Loop and Merge facilitates all of the above examples and more.  Using Loop and Merge

  • The items to be repeated only have to be specified once, making the questionnaire easier to manage and keep consistent.
  • The basis of the repetitions can be very flexible. They can be fixed items, or can be based on responses piped from a previous question.  These can be fixed choice questions or text entry.
  • For each repetition, multiple variables or fields can be defined and then used as piped text in the questions, so that on each loop the items can be presented in a targeted way.
  • The repetitions can be presented in random order, and it is possible to select a random sample from the possible repetitions.  For example, a person may indicate that they had 8 types of conflicts with their parents, but to keep the response time down you might want to ask each to only fill in detailed information about a sample of 3 types of conflicts, presented in random order.

All of these variations can be set up and controlled using the Loop and Merge facility.  This is a feature I wish i had discovered earlier, and well worth the time to learn and master. The online Qualtrics help offers more detailed instructions and examples.