ASA Joins AAPOR in Statement on Use of Incentives in Survey Participation

With polling top-of-mind to reporters and political prognosticators as we near Election Day and the end to what has been an exhausting election cycle, ASA President Jessica Utts and AAPOR President Roger Tourangeau have issued a joint statement on the use of incentives to attract individuals to participate in surveys. The statement is in response to an LA Times article by David Lazarus, who described the use of incentives to encourage survey participation as “bribery.”

“Both AAPOR and ASA recognize the value of incentives as a tool for encouraging people to respond to surveys,” the authors note. “There has been a lot of research on incentives over the years, and it is clear that a) they improve response rates; b) nothing works as well as cash for this purpose; and c) incentives often pay for themselves by reducing the number of attempts interviewers have to make to get people to respond.”

ASA Joins AAPOR in Statement on Use of Incentives in Survey Participation

Incentives are nothing new to surveys and for decades have been an effective tool in getting people to participate, especially since fewer people are willing to take part—not just in the US, but in developed countries around the world.

The particular survey referenced by Lazarus was not concerning election polling, but instead the Consumer Expenditure Survey carried out by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Still, the authors warn of the negative consequences arising when people do not respond to surveys. “Nonresponse threatens to bias survey estimates, a cause for great concern both here and abroad because the survey estimates are so important.”

The joint statement also appeared as a letter to the editor in the LA Times.