Respondent non-cooperation in surveys and diaries: An analysis of item non-response and panel attrition

Eunkyu Lee, Michael Y. Hu, Rex S. Toh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


This paper analyses the impact of questionnaire design and length of participation on item non-response and panel attrition. Based upon the results of previous studies, the authors propose a framework that involves the mediating variables of participation fatigue and level of difficulty. From this framework, they develop a set of hypotheses on item non-response and panel attrition, which then are tested using a large database collected by AT&T. The results show that difficult questions in surveys and diaries lead to higher rates of item non-response. The study also finds that participation fatigue causes increased item non-response and, eventually, panel attrition. Thus, high initial rates of item non-response are warning signs for high subsequent attrition. However, those who stay on the diary panel do not necessarily show increasing rates of item non-response over time, because the effect of increasing participation fatigue is counterbalanced by the impact of decreasing difficulty, caused by answering the same questions repeatedly. In contrast, it was also found that because the diary panel increasingly comprises people who are relatively attrition-resistant, the rate of attrition decreases over time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)311-326+386-388
JournalInternational Journal of Market Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Marketing


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