Editor's note: Pete Cape is global knowledge director in the London office of Shelton, Conn., research firm SSI.

Much has been written about the potential for gamification in online questionnaires to improve the quality of results. But the focus has usually been on gaming elements which use graphics, virtual reality, avatars and the like. Is it possible to harness the power of gaming psychology within a more traditional questionnaire design – by using different wording alone? Does a gamified survey question perform better than one using standard wording? Specifically, can gamification like this increase spontaneous brand awareness? This was the test we conducted with members of our firm’s U.K. online panel.

In face-to-face and telephone surveys the interviewer is instructed to probe at the end of a spontaneous awareness question by saying “Any others?” This instructs the respondent that their task is not yet over and they should search their memory for more answers.

Transferring the same question text to an online setting loses this prompt. While we generally get more answers in an online setting anyway (since the respondent has more time to think) how do we know that we have exhausted the respondent’s recall?

By turning the question into a game we put in place rules that stimulate the respondent to keep going until they can name no more. Does the gamified survey question perform better than the standard one? We fielded a matched sample of U.K. respondents from SSI’s online panel to test this.

Shown in the box in Figure 1 is the gamified survey design. Notice how we allow 10 boxes per respondent, not one. Not only does this make coding easier but it also allows respondents to assess their performance quickly and see how much further they need to go to compete the game.

Consider the question. We are very clear that this is a game. Since the rest of the survey was not 1...