Online survey invitations and perceived anonymity (IO Psychology)

Topic(s): surveys

Topic: Surveys
Publication: Journal of Business and Psychology (in press)
Article: Effects of personalized versus generic implementation of an intra-organizational online survey on psychological anonymity and response behavior: A field experiment
Authors: Karsten Mueller, Tammo Straatmann, Kate Hattrup, & Marco Jochum
Reviewed by: Alexandra Rechlin

Survey research, specifically online survey research, is a joy and a burden for many of us in the profession. It’s easy to collect data with online surveys, but response rates are notoriously low. Trying to get those response rates up to acceptable level can be a chore. Should you send out a generic link to everyone or tailor the invite to make it seem more personal (with a password too)?

While generic invitations are often used because they seem more anonymous, personalized invitations are beneficial because they allow us to track who has taken the survey and keep people from taking the survey multiple times. So what’s best? Does the type of survey invitation (generic or personalized) affect participants’ responses and the extent of perceived anonymity?

Actually, it may not matter at all. The authors found that there was no difference in response rates for the two groups; the two groups were equally likely to complete the survey and they left approximately the same number of items unanswered. Responses for both rating scale items and open-ended questions were also comparable across the two groups. Participants did perceive the generic invitation to be slightly more anonymous than the personalized one, but the difference was very small.

The results of this study suggest that requiring survey respondents to use a personalized password may not be as negative as previously thought. As far as the responses and response rates, it did not really matter if the survey invitation was generic or personalized. So go forth and do whatever you were doing before. It’s fine.

Mueller, K., Straatmann, T., Hattrup, K., & Jochum, M. (in press). Effects of personalized versus generic implementation of an intra-organizational online survey on psychological anonymity and response behavior: A field experiment. The Journal of Business and Psychology. doi: 10.1007/s10869-012-9262-9

human resource management, organizational industrial psychology, organizational management

 

 

 

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