The purpose of this paper is to examine the effect of topic sensitivity and the research design techniques of forced answering (FA) (i.e. cannot proceed if leave an answer blank) and response options (use of “prefer not to answer” (PNA) option) on respondent motives for participating in an internet-based survey.
Data were collected in a field experiment in Hong Kong using a 2×2×2 factorial design. Variables manipulated were topic sensitivity, use of FA, and response options. The dependent variables were eight specific motives which were obtained from responses to the survey participation inventory (SPI).
Topic sensitivity has a significant influence on seven of the eight motives. The use of FA does not appear to affect motives. In contrast, the use of the response option “PNA” has a significant effect on all motives except “obligation”. The SPI appears to be a viable measure to the use with Hong Kong online panellists, and perhaps with other Asian and non-Western cultures/countries as well.
The present study tested only two specific topics, each with a specific level of sensitivity. Further research should apply the SPI to topics of varying levels of sensitivity. The present study used a sample of panel members. Future research could examine motivation for survey participation for use with off-line samples.
There are differences in motivation for survey participation among panellists. The authors relate panellists' motivation to topic sensitivity and confirm that panellists who answered questions about a sensitive topic were less motivated to participate in every motivational aspect, except for incentives. The authors find that the survey design feature of FA is largely unrelated to panellists' motivation.
This is one of the few studies that show the impact of topic sensitivity, FA, and response options on motives for responding. It is the first use of the SPI in a non-Western culture/nation.
Albaum, G., A. Roster, C. and M. Smith, S. (2014), "Topic sensitivity and research design: effects on internet survey respondents' motives", Asia Pacific Journal of Marketing and Logistics, Vol. 26 No. 1, pp. 147-161. https://doi.org/10.1108/APJML-12-2012-0127Download as .RIS
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