Fabian Kalleitner, Monika Mühlböck, Bernhard Kittel
What’s the Benefit of a Video? The Effect of Nonmaterial Incentives on Response Rate and Bias in Web Surveys

Social Science Computer Review, In Press: (publ. online before print)
ISSN: 0894-4393 (print), 1552-8286 (online)

Traditional survey research faces declining response rates due to changing cultural habits and technological developments. Researchers have developed novel approaches to increase respondents’ likelihood of participating in web surveys. However, we lack information about whether these methods indeed increase response rates and, if so, whether they bias the resulting data. This article focuses on the use of nonmaterial incentives in the form of a video that provides the invitees with information tailored to their life situation. Analysis of our experimental data shows that instead of increasing respondents’ probability of starting the survey, the video treatments actually decrease it. We provide evidence that the lower salience of the intrinsic benefits of survey participation in the invitation email significantly contributes to this reduction. Additionally, the effect of the nonmaterial incentive differs across subgroups, affecting nonresponse biases in line with employment status, gender, and migration background. We therefore conclude that using additional information in the form of a video as a nonmaterial survey incentive is only suitable under specific conditions.