Never knowingly undersolved.

Cryptic Crossword Survey – Participants needed

Posted by Admin on April 1st, 2010


Kathryn Friedlander and Philip Fine, at the University of Buckingham, are launching an on-line survey to investigate the cognitive skills, motivation and development of expertise of those who tackle cryptic crosswords. They are looking for participants who tackle a ‘broadsheet’ cryptic crossword (such as the Daily Telegraph, Guardian or Independent crosswords) on a fairly regular basis, and who manage to complete it at least sometimes. Ideally, participants will have been solving cryptics for at least 1 year.

If you would like to take part, simply click the following link to be taken to the survey:

It will take 30-40 minutes, but previous participants seem to have found the experience enjoyable – and even thought-provoking! You can leave the survey at any point if you no longer wish to participate.

If you want further information, or have difficulty getting into the survey, please contact Kathryn by emailing her at: kathryn{dot}friedlander{at}

[If you have already participated in this survey at its last release (in 2007/2008) please don’t complete it again!]

14 Responses to “Cryptic Crossword Survey – Participants needed”

  1. Shuchi says:

    I shaed the link to this post on twitter. Was immediately asked if this is a Fool’s Day gag, especially since the survey is hosted on survey’monkey’!

  2. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Shuchi
    I can assure you that it is not a hoax. That the survey went live on April 1st was purely coincidental. The aim was to attract participants when they might have more spare time over the Easter weekend.

  3. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thanks, Gaufrid – with somebody called Kathryn running it I’ll have to at least have a look.

  4. shuchi says:

    Thanks Gaufrid. I’ve passed on the clarification to others, and participated in the survey.

    Wish you and everyone on fifteensquared a happy Easter.

  5. Marjory Mulrooney says:

    I have tried opening the above link to the survey without success. No idea why it won’t open unless that is part of the challenge.

  6. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Marjory
    Sorry about that. It was working when I checked earlier this morning but it seems that somehow the link had been corrupted since then. I have rectified this and the link should now be working correctly.

  7. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Just did the questionnaire and no problems with the above link.
    Knowing how difficult it is to compile a proper questionnaire, I have to say that this one ‘felt’ rather good.
    The University of Buckingham is an independent uni, which says on its site: “We think we are the best university in Britain – come and see for yourself” – a thing that I hate so much since living in the UK, but anyway.

    Further research on this site tells us:
    “Kathryn joined the Department in January 2010. Kathryn studied at Oxford for her original BA and DPhil in Literae Humaniores, and afterwards pursued a wide-ranging career in the Civil Service. After becoming interested in the education of Gifted and Talented children, she went on to pursue postgraduate studies at the University of Worcester into the psychology of Giftedness and Talent. She currently researches into the psychology of puzzle-solving, in collaboration with Dr Philip Fine. Her research interests focus upon the solving of UK-style cryptic crosswords, with particular interest in the cognitive skills, motivational drivers and development of expertise in this domain”

    And that there’s a conference paper (available?):
    Friedlander, K.J. & P. Fine. Expertise in cryptic crossword performance: An exploratory survey. International Symposium on Performance Science (Auckland, NZ), 2009.

  8. mhl says:

    Sil van den Hoek: the paper’s here:

    I wonder if Kathryn Friedlander is the daughter of “Kathryn’s Dad” who posts here? :)

    It’s a long survey, but it’s strangely nice to feel that people are interested in your crossword solving habits…

  9. mhl says:

    Oops, I completely missed comment 3 – sorry, Kathryn’s Dad!

  10. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Don’t worry, mhl – Kathryn has never thanked me for spelling her name that way, since there are at least half a dozen other variations and she (allegedly) spends half her life explaining which moniker she goes by. Sadly, my Kathryn is at uni costing me money rather than working for a uni earning it …

  11. muck says:

    I have completed this questionnaire.
    As they go, this one isn’t too bad.
    Usually, there are questions which really annoy me.
    In this case, they seemed well thought out.
    However, it really does take about 30-40 minutes.
    Towards the end, I thought it was too long.

  12. Jan says:

    I’ve completed the questionnaire which had some iffy data-collection parts.

    Why are they doing this research? I can’t see how this would be of any use to anybody. Are we all going to be head-hunted for a new Bletchley Park? :)

    I read the paper. Thank you for the link, mhl.

    The University of Buckingham in Britain’s only independent university. Maybe The Listener funds it. ;)

  13. JimboNWUK says:

    As surveys go, I found this one fairly gruelling, inasmuch as I had to put a fair amount of thought into virtually every answer in long multiple choice lists. It most certainly is NOT one of those “just put down your first thoughts” type of questionnaires and I will be quite interested to see the results (whatever they may be intended to prove!).

  14. Kathryn Friedlander says:

    Thank you very much to all those who have participated in the survey so far. We’ve had 450 completed responses to date, which exceeds our target of 250 by a long chalk. 196 of these respondents have also indicated that they would like to help us out with follow-on research in the future, so we are hoping that we didn’t annoy too many people with the length of the survey (it *is* long – but thanks for persevering)!

    I’m also very grateful to those who took the time to make comments on the survey, whether in the final ‘comments’ section or by e-mail to me at Buckingham. Your reflections are an invaluable source of additional information.

    We’ll keep you in touch with the results of the survey as they unfold. (Meanwhile, it is still open for anyone who missed the boat over Easter…!)

    Kathryn Friedlander

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