9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN21 RENCORE: Methods for Comparative Research on Europe

2009-09-05 09:00:00 2009-09-05 10:30:00 Saturday, 5 September 09:00 - 10:30 Methodological Aspects on Comparative Survey Research II Building I, 2E7

Unit-nonresponse - empirical findings of an experiment

The main objective of the presentation is to answer the relevant question for social research, why some people participate in a scientific survey and others refuse to participate.
The so-called unit-nonresponse, i.e. the systematic denial of a person to participate in a scientific survey, presents a central problem in social research, since it can be a crucial source of selective sampling.
Results of the existing nonresponse literature are very often based on demographic variables, from which reasons for participation are often speculatively deduced. Social decision-making mechanisms of the respondentĀ“s decisions thus remain unexplained. To answer the central research question, the causes for the participation or non-participation in surveys must be uncovered.
The two relevant models of participation behaviour in social research - the Theory of Planned Behaviour by Fishbein and Ajzen (1975; see Ajzen and Fishbein 1973; Ajzen 1991) and the theory of action (based on the theory of subjective expected utility) by Esser (1974, 1984, 1986 und 1990) explain the unit-nonresponse as a result of an individual decision of the respondents.
Using an experimental design, surveying 600 students at the University of Berne (classroom survey; random selection of courses), the relevant theoretical expectations, evaluations and attitudes toward scientific surveys were collected. At the end of the questionnaire, students were asked to provide their e-mail addresses so that results could be sent to them. By use of these e-mail addresses, students were asked to participate in an online survey on drug use. The actual participation is explained by the previously collected theoretical constructs.
Overall, through this complex theory based and empirically informed design, we hope to answer the question why people in scientific surveys do participate and others do not.