Understanding mail survey response behavior a meta-analysis

Francis J. Yammarino, Steven J. Skinner, Terry L. Childers

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384 Scopus citations


A meta-analysis of prior studies of techniques designed to induce mail survey response rates was conducted. Research encompassing 184 effects (study outcomes) in 115 studies (articles) for 17 predictors of response rate was examined. The average effect size across all manipulations was r=.065, indicating an average increase of about 6.5 percent in response rates for manipulations. Effect sizes for specific predictors and two potential moderators of effects were examined. Results indicated that repeated contacts in the form of preliminary notification and follow-ups, appeals, inclusion of a return envelope, postage, and monetary incentives, were effective in increasing survey response rates. Significant effect sizes for the predictors ranged from an increase in response of 2 percent to 31 percent. Implications of the results for the conduct of mail surveys and future research on mail survey response behavior are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)613-639
Number of pages27
JournalPublic Opinion Quarterly
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1991

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Correspondence regarding this article should be addressed to FRANCIS I. YAMMARINO, School of Management and Center for Leadership Studies, State University of New York at Binghamton, P.O. Box 6000, Binghamton, NY 13902-6000. STEVEN J. SKINNER is at the College of Business and Economics, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY. TERRY L. CHILDERS is at the Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN. This research was supported in part by a New Faculty Development Award to F. J. Yammarino from the NYS/UUP Professional Development and Quality of Working Life Committee. The views expressed are ours. We gratefully acknowledge the helpful comments provided by the anonymous reviewers on an earlier version of this article.


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