I was wondering if someone could point me to some resources on the concept of escalating commitment in regards to filling out forms online.

A colleague of mine suggested that paginating web forms (especially ones for eCommerce), and specifically providing easier to answer questions upfront, resulted in higher conversion rates and less abandoned carts. His suggestion was that by getting users further into the process faster, they were less likely to stop and more likely to finish the process.

I would like to be able to discuss this concept with other designers/developers, but I am having trouble find specific resources online and was wondering if anyone else has read articles/books that they could share.

Thank you

  • 1
    I think this is known as progressive disclosure! Have a search on that, you may discover some more stuff.
    – user43251
    Commented May 22, 2014 at 20:18

1 Answer 1


Here's where I remember reading about this:

Research Methods in Human-Computer Interaction, by Lazar, Feng and Hochheiser is my source. I have the 2010 edition, which states on page 114,

..provide interesting questions at the beginning of the survey to help motivate people to read the survey and complete it. Generally it is a good idea to leave demographic questions until the end of the survey, as these are the least interesting (Babbie, 1990). Also if there are any sensitive or potentially objectionable questions (relating to income, health or similar), then they should be placed near the end, once the respondent has already become interested in the survey (Dillman, 2000).

About the length of the survey, the authors mention that there is a point where the survey becomes too long, which will lead to low response rates. Be reasonable about how much time a person would likely spend on your survey.

Use contingent questions (if A is true, ask B. If A is false, skip to C) to shorten your survey and keep it relevant.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.