of the interview. This variation did not affect the overall response rate. In another study, scripted introductions were found to generate lower response rates (Morton-Williams, 1993).
Houtkoop-Steenstra and van den Bergh (2000) hypothesized that if interviewers varied their survey introduction style, without altering the content, they could achieve greater cooperation. They looked at response rates in a telephone survey in the Netherlands. Four types of introductions were given. The first was an agenda-based introduction, in which the interviewers formulated their own introductions on the basis of a limited number of catchwords. The other three were standardized introductions of varying length—short, medium, and long. The short version included a greeting and request for participation which were not part of the agenda-based introduction. The medium version included the elements of the short version and the reason for calling. The long version included elements that in theory and sometimes in research increase response rates, such as (a) the information about the length of interview (“The interview will not take long.”); (b) the nature of questions (“The questions are simple.”); (c) an authority statement mentioning the name of the company (“You may know about us from television.”); (d) a statement about the importance of the information (“Your opinion is important.”); and (e) a confidentiality statement. The authors did not find any differences among the respondent groups assigned to the standardized introductions, but the agenda-based introduction induced higher response rates.
A recent study by Maynard et al. (2010) discusses the leverage–saliency framework outlined in Chapter 1. Interviewers may increase the probability of obtaining a response by emphasizing features of the study or participation with “positive leverage and neutralizing the salience of those with negative leverage” (p. 792). The authors point out that the theory accords with actual practice—interviewers tend to emphasize positive aspects of participating or downplay negative aspects. For example, an interviewer might acknowledge that an interview takes a long time but note that it can be broken into parts. By emphasizing that the leverage a survey attribute has differs across sample persons, leverage–saliency theory calls attention to the importance that interviewers tailor requests to individual sample persons. Interviewers can encourage participation by “observ[ing] idiosyncratic concerns of the householder and customiz[ing] their remarks to those concerns” (Groves et al., 2000, p. 299; see also Couper and Groves, 1992; Groves et al., 1992; Maynard and Schaeffer, 2002).
In a presentation to the panel, Schaeffer pointed out that approaches such as leverage–saliency theory draw attention to the predispositions of