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Are high response rates essential to valid surveys?

Authors
Journal
Social Science Research
0049-089X
Publisher
Elsevier
Publication Date
Volume
1
Issue
3
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1016/0049-089x(72)90080-4
Disciplines
  • Social Sciences

Abstract

Abstract At present, the credibility of survey research findings is largely a function of response rate. Low return rates are presumed to suggest biases in data. This paper demonstrates that when surveys are made of homogeneous populations (persons having some strong group identity) concerning their attitudes, opinions, perspectives, etc., toward issues concerning the group, significant response-rate bias is probably unlikely. This is because on matters related to the group, persons having strong identification with the group tend to respond more as members of the group than as members of some social classification, such as the middle class, those over 50 years of age or members of the Democratic party. Although at first glance these survey conditions may seem rather unique, most surveys in the social sciences are probably precisely of this sort. Most are probably of homogeneous populations on matters obviously concerning them.

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