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As it applies to survey research, economic exchange theory provides a possible explanation for why certain types and levels of survey incentives do or do not work to (a) raise the response propensity of a sampled respondent to participate in a survey, (b) improve the quality of the data provided by the respondent, (c) reduce nonresponse bias, and/or (d) lower total survey costs. The central premise in economic exchange theory, as it relates to survey research, is that respondents make at least a partially rational decision about whether or not they will participate in a survey, and the rational part of this decision takes into account the “costs” of participating versus the “benefits” gained from participating. One of those presumed benefits is the value to ...

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