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Luigi Pistaferri, Consumption Inequality and Family Labor Supply

The Framing of the Survey Request and Panel Attrition

Archived Abstract of Former PSC Researcher

Tourangeau, Roger, and Cong Ye. 2009. "The Framing of the Survey Request and Panel Attrition." Public Opinion Quarterly, 73(2): 338-348.

Every survey begins with a request to the sample members to take part. How that request is framed can have a variety of consequences, including its intended (positive) effect on the cooperation rate. Survey appeals tend to emphasize the benefits of participation, but there is reason to think that emphasizing the negative consequences of nonparticipation may sometimes be a more effective method of inducing cooperation. We carried out an experiment in which respondents in a random digit dialing (RDD) sample were asked to complete a second telephone interview. For approximately half of the respondents, we emphasized the benefits of their completing the follow-up interview; for the others, we emphasized the loss involved if they chose not to complete the follow-up. Based on Kahneman and Tversky's prospect theory, we predicted that the loss framing would be more effective than the gain framing. In line with our prediction, 87.5 percent of those who got the "loss" framing of the request completed the second interview versus 77.9 percent of those who got the "gain" framing. Multivariate models of the response rate to the second interview (conditional on completion of the first) suggest that the framing effect is fairly robust across subgroups of the sample.

DOI:10.1093/poq/nfp021 (Full Text)

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