Visual Preference Surveys (VPS) are tools to help communities establish a common vision of what their localities should look like by asking participants to rate their preference or dislike of selected images of the community.
A visual preference survey (VPS) is comprised of images that present contrasting images of the living environment - its streets, houses, stores, office buildings, parks, open space and key civic features. Presented through a slide show at a meeting, the images are then rated by participants, who yields information about the types of scenery or subjects that citizens like to see in the community.
The VPS is often conducted at a public meeting or workshop organized to discuss some aspect of the land use and transportation planning process. Survey participants are given a few seconds to rate each of the 40 slides on a scale of -10 to +10 (with 0 being 'neutral') depending upon how much they like or dislike the image. They are assured ahead of time that there is no right or wrong answer. The quick pace of the survey seeks to gauge their initial, 'gut' reaction to the images that are presented.
The scores for each slide are then tallied to determine the group's average score - a quantified collective opinion - for each image. The images with the highest negative and highest positive averages indicate where there is the most consensus in the group. The slides are shown again, and the participants are told the average score for each slide. Group members are asked why they rated the images the way they did - an activity that generates spontaneous, high-energy discussion and debate.