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American Association for Public Opinion Research

Webinar Details

The Usage of Incentives in Survey Research

Paul Lavrakas, PhD

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

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About This Course:

In developing this webinar, the instructor has brought to bear his training as a research psychologist throughout his thinking about the prudent use of incentives in surveys research during the past four decades. This includes during his seven years as Nielsen’s chief methodologist while conceptualizing, interpreting, and applying the findings from an extensive series of large national factorial experiments of different aspects of survey incentives. He also has continued to experiment with incentives during his recent years as an independent consultant. The webinar will focus on a framework that survey researchers should use to carefully determine how to choose, deploy, and evaluate the incentives they will use in their surveys. Topics will include: (a) Possible goals that incentives are meant to achieve (e.g., improving response rates, improving data quality, reducing nonresponse bias, reducing total survey costs); (b) Which respondents will be chosen to receive incentives; (c) The types of incentives that can be used (e.g., contingent and/or noncontingent; cash and/or noncash; fixed and/or differential); (d) Ethical considerations in choosing the incentives that will be deployed; (e) Costs implications the chosen incentives will have; and (f) How to evaluate the impact of the chosen incentives.

Learning Objectives:

  • Decide whether or not to use incentives in a given survey project.
  • What theory suggests about the possible effects of incentives.
  • What are likely to be the most cost-effective incentives in light of the chosen goals of the incentives.
  • Decide whether the uses of incentives are ethical.
  • Determine the “true” cost of incentives.
  • Evaluate the effects of survey incentives.
  • Use the Incentive Template, which is provided as part of the webinar, to structure the myriad explicit decisions that should be made about using incentives in a specific survey research project.

About the Instructor:

ImagePaul J. Lavrakas, Ph.D. former professor (1980-2000), former survey research center director (1982-2000), and former chief research methodologist at Nielsen (2000-2007), where he spend much of his time helping to determine the incentives that should be used in Nielsen’s diary samples and meter panels. Dr. Lavrakas has previously taught a version of this content as a short course for AAPOR (2011), NY-AAPOR (2008 and 2012), DC-AAPOR (2009), and in an MRA (2009) webinar. He began developing the “survey incentives framework” that structures the webinar after pledging to do so at a 2008 COPAFS seminar on survey incentives at which he was an invited speaker.