Are panelists employees or respondents?
Online survey panelists are frequently characterized as 'professional respondents' motivated by self-interested, incentive-maximization. Little scientific evidence exists to evaluate such claims. This paper reports on two experiments testing hypotheses at the intersection of survey incentives and unit-response; hypotheses that contrast theories of 'economic exchange' and 'social exchange'. Participants did not systematically respond more, or satisfice less when promised a higher cash incentive. Nor did participants respond more to a prepaid versus promised incentive. The results provide little support for a one-dimensional professional respondents'characterization of online panelist motivations.
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