Unreliable and unmotivated respondents

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Most people are not very thorough in a research sense, and this is all the more true about dealing with questionnaires - an activity which typically they do not enjoy or benefit from in any way. Thus, the re-

suits may vary greatly from one individual to another, depending on the time and care they choose or are able to give (Hopkins, Stanley, & Hopkins, 1990). Respondents are also prone to leave out some questions, either by mistake or because they did not like them, and Low (1999) presents empirical evidence that respondents also often simply misread or misinterpret questions (which of course renders the answers false). If returning the questionnaires to the survey administrator is left to the respondents (for example in a mail survey), they very often fail to do so, even when they have completed it. In such 'distant' modes, the majority of the respondents may not even bother to have a go at the questionnaire. After all, don't we all think, from time to time, that the questionnaires we receive are an absolute nuisance...?

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