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Web Survey Bibliography

Title Self-selection in Online Access Panels: No “Little Difference” in the Recruiting Process?
Author Wirth, T.
Year 2008
Access date 08.07.2008

Online access panels are a modern medium in market research. They are able to quickly provide those participants who already declared that they would like to take part in market research surveys. The increasing importance of online access panels as a means of supplying survey participants is also particularly apparent in view of the increasing population with internet access. Online surveys therefore provide an attractive alternative to previously used methods such as telephone or face-to-face surveys.

Nevertheless, the process of self-selection in online access panels is accompanied by criticism. Under particular scrutiny are not only the methods of recruiting such as active vs. passive recruiting but also the motivation of the panelists themselves when joining in online panels. In light of this, the study at hand examines the selection of participants paying particular attention to the process of registration in online access panels regarding both socio-demographic and psycho-demographic characteristics.

Active methods of telephone recruiting are compared with passive methods, which recruit new panelists by means of theme questionnaires created by the opinion portal sozioland. These theme questionnaires focus on natural curiosity and the urge to express one’s opinion as stimuli rather than on monetary stimulation and have been successfully established for several years. The two following hypothesis provide the foundation for the comparison study:

1. Actively recruited panelists do not differ from those recruited passively regarding their personal characteristics.

2. The focus on stimuli other than those of a monetary kind during the recruiting process prevents any systematic loss in respect of socio-demographic and psycho-demographic characteristics.

The study was conducted over a period of one month, from June to July 2007. In the process of active vs. passive recruiting approx. 740 subjects were interviewed and examined regarding the control variables age, sex and education. Beside the analysis of socio-demographic characteristics, particularly personality characteristics are introduced with the help of the “big five short version”. The “big five” record the personality via 21 items in five dimensions: extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism and openness for experience.

The second hypothesis is demonstrated using the control group made up of all the non-registered persons from various sozioland questionnaires – anonymous society surveys that are released on online portal and special interest sites. Subsequently, there are three isolated samples available with over 2,300 subjects. For reasons of efficiency only the personality characteristics extroversion and openness for experience could be surveyed. Socio-demographic control variables are age and sex.

The author of the study at hand arrives at the conclusion that both hypotheses are confirmed. This study therefore serves as a substantial part of basic research in online access panels.

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General online research (GOR) 2008 (abstract)

Year of publication2008
Bibliographic typeConference proceedings

Web survey bibliography - General Online Research Conference (GOR) 2008 (15)