Behind the Scenes with the World Relationships Survey

Go behind the scenes of Thomson et al.’s (2018) relational mobility paper (open-access PDF on PNAS here). A big part of the paper was the World Relationships Survey – a fun but serious survey designed to capture the participation of every-day people.

The World Relationships Survey (WRS)

All relational mobility scores in the Thomson et al. (2018) paper were measured in the WRS, over multiple waves from late 2013 till mid-2016. The survey also included the interpersonal intimacy, self-disclosure, similarity, and social support measures. See the main paper (PDF) for details.









Behind the Scenes of the WRS

Facebook ads used for recruitment

We used Facebook advertisements in order to recruit participants. This method has pluses and minuses. On the plus side, compared with survey ‘panels’ even people who aren’t usually interested in taking surveys could take part. Also, in comparison to using college student samples, so long as someone had access to a computer or a smartphone (and a Facebook account), anyone could take part.

The main “minus” is similar to many other non-probability (non-random) recruitment: only people interested take part, which makes for selection bias. Indeed, over 80% of our sample was female!

Here are just a few of the advertisements we used to encourage people to take part in the survey. See all of them at

Survey Landing Pages

The attention of a Facebook is a fickle thing. So a big focus was on making the survey look nice. Our talented graphic designer, Adriana Danaila, did a fantastic job.

Below are landing pages in just a few of the languages. See all of them at

Survey Result Report Pages

You might be thinking “why do people take part in these surveys?” Well, in our survey, people were given feedback about their responses. For example, in the survey, people were asked about their intimacy with their romantic partner. Or how similar they are to their best friend. Also, how many secrets they share with their lover.

The respondent’s intimacy, similarity, and self-disclosure ‘scores’ were then compared with the scores of other people who had taken the survey in their country or language.

Below are some example report pages in just a few of the languages. See all of them at