Surveys and participation

20 Feb

As some of you may have already found it, it can be difficult to ‘recruit participants’ into even taking a piece of paper from you, much less devoting 10 minutes of their time to a survey or short experiment.

Some students have written about their own experiences with surveys in Homework #2. Many people identified personal benefit as the main incentive, while others noted that a sense of having voice or an obligation influenced their decision. No matter the reason, we essentially agreed that we would not have filled it out unless we had a fairly compelling reason to.

In a video game survey, one student noted that they felt their opinion might be made use of to make a better game. Another said that the combined forces of a) convenience, b) boredom, and c) sense of individual choice greatly influenced their decision to participate in a restaurant survey (a. pen provided, b. waiting for check, c. not pressured). One student said that they empathized with other researchers, and that was the reason why they cooperated with the survey.

Whatever the rationale for participating, you need to cooperate with your sample for them to cooperate with you. Facilitating their participation as much as possible while also providing as attractive an incentive as you can will help encourage participation. Just remember that every participant has every right to not participate, and that your goal is to make the experience interesting (or at least worthwhile, depending on your funding).

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