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Superficial Survey Choice: An Experimental Test of a Potential Method for Increasing Response Rates and Response Quality in Correctional Surveys

NCJ Number
Journal of Quantitative Criminology Volume: 30 Issue: 2 Dated: June 2014 Pages: 265-284
Justin T. Pickett; Christi Falco Metcalfe; Thomas Baker; Marc Gertz; Laura Bedard
Date Published
June 2014
20 pages
Drawing on prior theoretical and empirical work on survey participation, this study develops one potential method for increasing response rates and response quality in correctional surveys.
Specifically, the authors hypothesized that providing inmates with a superficial survey choice (SSC)that is, a choice between completing either of two voluntary surveys that are actually differently ordered versions of the same questionnairewill increase their motivation both to participate in a given survey and to respond thoughtfully to the questions asked therein. The authors tested the effectiveness of this method by evaluating its impact on unit nonresponse, item nonresponse, and answer reliability. To do this, the authors analyzed experimental data from a recent survey of male inmates incarcerated in a medium security, private prison. Findings indicate that the overall response rate is higher among inmates who are provided a survey choice. In addition, the evidence shows that the SSC method increases the percentage of individual items completed, the number of demanding questions completed, and the reliability of reported responses. The results from the analyses are consistent with the hypotheses that motivated this study and suggest that the SSC method holds promise as a tool for correctional researchers. Abstract published by arrangement with Springer.