In the field of scientific futurology, future scenarios are often formulated. Scenario development is an established procedure for outlining possible future developments. Many researchers use the Delphi method to collect content and assessments for their future scenarios. Prof. Dr. Heiko von der Gracht, Dr. Christoph Markmann, Dr. Alexander Spickermann and Prof. Dr. Alexander Brem investigated whether and how the type of Delphi question influences the discussion process of the participants. In doing so, the four researchers examined how the level of abstraction of the question affects the participant’s response.
The meta-study analysed 33 Delphi studies conducted over a period of two years. A total of almost two thousand experts from more than 50 countries were surveyed. This makes the meta-study one of the largest studies with uniform data sets that have been realized in Delphi research so far.
The researchers used the data sets to test and evaluate five different hypotheses. Among other things, a significant influence with regard to the degree of abstraction of the questions could be demonstrated. According to the authors, this knowledge of the impact of the level of abstraction of the question in the context of surveys and the ability to measure it with a model from linguistics research will improve the interpretation of survey results.
You can read the full study and other results in the open access article.