This paper analyzes whether respondents’ attitudes toward surveys explain their susceptibility to item nonresponse. In contrast to previous studies, the decision to refuse to provide income information, not to answer other questions and the probability of ‘don’t know’ responses is tested separately. Furthermore, the interviewers’ overall judgments of response willingness was included as well. Respondents with a positive and cognitively accessible attitude toward surveys were expected to adopt a cooperative orientation and were thus deemed more likely to answer difficult as well as sensitive questions. Attitudes were measured with a 16-item instrument and the response latencies were used as an indicator for attitude accessibility. We found that respondents with more favorable evaluations of surveys had lower values on all kinds of nonresponse indicators. Except for the strong effect on the prevalence of ‘don’t knows’, survey attitudes were increasingly more predictive for all other aspects of nonresponse when these attitude answers were faster and thus cognitively more accessible. This accessibility, and thus how relevant survey attitudes are for nonresponse, was found to increase with the subjects’ exposure to surveys in the past.
Quality & Quantity – Springer Journals
Published: Apr 25, 2005
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