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Web Survey Bibliography

Title Do Tailored Messages of Encouragement Reduce Web Survey Break-offs?
Source The American Association for (AAPOR) 62th Annual Conference, 2007The American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) 62th Annual Conference, 2007
Year 2007
Access date 23.05.2007


Unlike interviewer-administered modes of data collection, self-administered modes typically lack any active ability to deter respondents from ending the survey prematurely (i.e., break off). Web surveys appear to have the most potential for overcoming this limitation, and recent research has focused on internal methods of increasing respondent motivation and discouraging break-offs (e.g., progress indicators). These methods, however, have yielded mixed results and break-off rates continue to be high, as evident by the approximate[y 30% break off rate in the 2004 National Study of Living Learning Programs (NSLLP). One explanation for break-offs may be that respondents overlook the perceived benefits of finishing the survey and, instead, focus on the actual burden of participating. One possible approach, based on leverage-saliency theory, is to periodically offer tailored messages of encouragement that remind respondents of the relevant benefits of completing the survey. The increased saliency of these benefits may increase respondent motivation and lead to fewer break-offs. To test this approach we experimentally varied the feedback given to a large random sample of college students (n =1 00,000) enrolled in approximately fifty schools as part of the 2007 NSLLP. Each respondent was assigned to one of three message groups: (1) Tailored message (e.g., 'Your responses are helping the University of Michigan improve the quality of programs within your residence halls.'), (2) Generic message (e.g., 'Thank you for your responses so far, you are helping us tremendously.'), and (3) No message. This paper evaluates the effectiveness of using tailored messages of encouragement to reduce web break-offs and discusses implications for web survey research.

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Year of publication2007
Bibliographic typeConferences, workshops, tutorials, presentations
Full text availabilityAvailable on request