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Open access

J. Michael Brick and Roger Tourangeau

Abstract

Survey researchers have been investigating alternative approaches to reduce data collection costs while mitigating the risk of nonresponse bias or to produce more accurate estimates within the same budget. Responsive or adaptive design has been suggested as one means for doing this. Falling survey response rates and the need to find effective ways of implementing responsive design has focused attention on the relationship between response rates and nonresponse bias. In our article, we re-examine the data compiled by Groves and Peytcheva (2008) in their influential article and show there is an important between-study component of variance in addition to the within-study variance highlighted in the original analysis. We also show that theory implies that raising response rates can help reduce the nonresponse bias on average across the estimates within a study. We then propose a typology of response propensity models that help explain the empirical findings, including the relative weak relationship between nonresponse rates and nonresponse bias. Using these results, we explore when responsive design tools such as switching modes, giving monetary incentives, and increasing the level of effort are likely to be effective. We conclude with some comments on the use of responsive design and weighting to control nonresponse bias.

Open access

Zeina M. Mneimneh, Roger Tourangeau, Beth-Ellen Pennell, Steven G. Heeringa and Michael R. Elliott

Abstract

Privacy is an important feature of the interview interaction mainly due to its potential effect on reporting information, especially sensitive information. Here we examine the effect of third-party presence on reporting both sensitive and relatively neutral outcomes. We investigate whether the effect of third-party presence on reporting sensitive information is moderated by the respondent’s need for social conformity and the respondent’s country of residence. Three types of outcomes are investigated: behavioral, attitudinal, and relatively neutral health events. Using data from 22,070 interviews and nine countries in the cross-national World Mental Health Survey Initiative, we fit multilevel logistic regression to study reporting effects on questions about suicidal behavior and marital ratings, and contrast these with questions about having high blood pressure, asthma, or arthritis. We find that there is an effect of third-party presence on reporting sensitive information and no effect on reporting of neutral information. Further, the effect of the interview privacy setting on reporting sensitive information is moderated by the need for social conformity and the cultural setting.