Does giving people their preferred survey mode actually increase survey participation rates? an experimental examination

Kristen Olson, Jolene D. Smyth, Heather M. Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations

Abstract

Survey research has long grappled with the concept of survey mode preference: the idea that a respondent may prefer to participate in one survey mode over another. This article experimentally examines the effect of mode preference on response, contact, and cooperation rates; mode choice; and data collection efficiency. Respondents to a 2008 telephone survey (n = 1,811; AAPOR RR3 = 38 percent) were asked their mode preference for future survey participation. These respondents were subsequently followed up in 2009 with two independent survey requests. The first follow-up survey request was another telephone survey (n = 548; AAPOR RR2 = 55.5 percent). In the second follow-up survey (n = 565; AAPOR RR2 = 46.0 percent), respondents were randomly assigned to one of four mode treatments: Web only, mail only, Web followed by mail, and mail followed by Web. We find that mode preference predicts participation in Web and phone modes, cooperation in phone mode (where contact and cooperation can be disentangled), and the selection of a mode when given the option of two modes. We find weak and mixed evidence about the relationship between mode preference and reduction of field effort. We discuss the important implications these findings have for mixed mode surveys.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)611-635
Number of pages25
JournalPublic Opinion Quarterly
Volume76
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences(all)
  • History and Philosophy of Science

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