Panel Abstract

Public Attitudes toward Surveys and Personal Data

In recent decades, the response rates of surveys have been decreasing over time. A major cause of the trend is the decrease in people’s willingness to participate in surveys. In Taiwan, the enforcement of the Personal Information Protection Act in 2010 and widespread scams in recent years have worsened the decline in response rates. The enforcement of the Personal Information Protection Act has made people more aware of personal data being collected or processed, either by government agencies or by commercial survey companies, and widespread scams have made people more cautious about unknown phone calls and unfamiliar visitors. To understand Taiwanese people’s attitude toward surveys and personal information, a face-to-face survey was conducted in 2013. The questionnaire included questions on respondents’ attitudes toward different survey organizations, sensitive personal information, pros and cons of surveys, and factors related to the participation in surveys. In addition, items on the respondent’s access to news media and social media, as well as experiences with telephone and/or in-person surveys were contained in the questionnaire.

The population of the survey was Taiwanese adults aged 20-70 who were registered residents in Taipei (the largest city of Taiwan). The sampling frame was the population register records provided by the Ministry of Interior, Taiwan. The number of completed interviews was 897, and the RR1 response rate was 42.7%. To adjust for nonresponse bias, information on both respondents and non-respondents was used to obtain nonresponse weight. The predictor variables for unit response were from several sources. One set of variables was from the sampling frame, which included age, gender, and area of registration. Another set of variables was recorded by interviewers during the fieldwork period. The relevant information included interviewers’ observations of neighborhood environment, type of housing, alternative use of residence, any security guard, and any doorbell or door phone. The other set of variables, collected from a self-administered questionnaire for interviewers, contained interviewers’ age, gender, education, working status, interviewing experience, and expectations for survey outcomes. The predictor variables which exhibited a high association with response were selected to predict the probability of response, and the nonresponse weight for a respondent was computed as the inverse of the predicted probability (see Kreuter et al. 2010; Wun et al. 2007).

By analyzing the survey data, the author explored the factors which matter most for an adult’s willingness to respond to a survey. The associations between respondents’ attitude toward personal information and survey attendance were investigated too. Furthermore, the author compared the findings with those from studies of Western societies (Roper 1986; Dran and Hildreth 1995; Rogelberg et al., 2001; Weakliem and Villemez 2004; Loosveldt and Storms 2008; Kim et al. 2011). The implications of the empirical findings were also discussed in this study.