Original Paper

Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 24, Issue 2, pp 505-513

First online:

Challenges with Online Research for Couples and Families: Evaluating Nonrespondents and the Differential Impact of Incentives

  • Dean M. BusbyAffiliated withSchool of Family Life, Brigham Young University Email author 
  • , Keitaro YoshidaAffiliated withMarriage, Family, and Human Development Program, School of Family Life, Brigham Young University

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In this study some of the challenges of conducting online research with couples and families were considered. Of particular concern with internet samples are the high percentages of individuals who have invalid email addresses and the low response rates to research requests. Using a sample of 2,049 individuals from whom we had extensive information, we invited them to participant in a short survey on their couple relationship. We explored whether participants who had invalid email addresses were different from those who had valid addresses and we compared those who completed the survey with those who did not. Also we explored the influence of different monetary incentives on response rates. The findings indicated that when evaluating 18 different areas including background measures, personality measures, family of origin measures, and couple measures, there were only minor differences between those with valid and invalid email addresses, and only one difference between those who completed the survey and those who did not. Also a lottery type monetary incentive showed promise in improving response rates compared to no incentive and a standard $20 incentive.


Online research Paid incentives Family background Couples Nonrespondents