Management Review Quarterly

, Volume 65, Issue 3, pp 183–216 | Cite as

Why do people participate in Web surveys? Applying survey participation theory to Internet survey data collection

  • Florian KeuschEmail author


In recent years Web surveys have emerged as the most popular mode of primary data collection in market and social research. To improve our understanding about the influence of different societal-level factors, characteristics of the sample person, and attributes of the survey design on participation in Web surveys, this paper establishes a systematic link between theoretical frameworks used to explain survey participation behavior and state-of-the-art empirical research on online data collection methods. The concepts of self-perception, cognitive dissonance, commitment and involvement, social exchange, compliance, leverage-salience, and planned behavior are discussed and their relationship with factors that have empirically proven to influence Web survey participation are analyzed using data from an expert survey. This paper will help researchers and practitioners to make informed decisions about the use of techniques increasing participation in Web surveys.


Empirical market and social research Survey methodology  Web survey participation behavior Self-perception theory Cognitive dissonance theory Commitment Involvement Social exchange theory  Compliance heuristics Leverage-salience theory Theory of planned behavior Expert survey Principal component analysis 

JEL Classification

C380 C830 M310 



The author thanks the editor and two anonymous reviewers as well as Eleanor Singer and Chris Antoun for helpful comments on earlier drafts of this paper and Chris Antoun and Chan Zhang for their feedback on the expert survey.

Supplementary material

11301_2014_111_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (246 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (pdf 247 KB)


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Copyright information

© Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien, Austria 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Lehrstuhl für Statistik und sozialwissenschaftliche MethodenlehreUniversität MannheimMannheimGermany

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