Decreasing response rates to federally sponsored surveys has become a key issue for methodological researchers. The current report focuses on gaining respondent cooperation with Census Bureau surveys. We present results from a final exploratory study designed to illuminate the challenges and successes of gaining respondent cooperation from an “in the field” perspective. We asked survey interviewers to describe their subjective perceptions of behaviors that are successful and behaviors that are not successful at gaining respondent cooperation with a large-scale federal survey. Our participants reported behaviors that tended to fall into four broad categories: 1) administrative, task oriented behaviors that focused on case management, organization, and scheduling; 2) self-directed behaviors that focused on appearance and attitude; 3) interview behaviors that focused on interactions with a potential respondent, and 4) behaviors, attitudes, and recommendations that were more general. The survey interviewers tended to report more behaviors that were successful at gaining cooperation than behaviors that were unsuccessful at gaining cooperation. The interviewers also tended to report more interview and administrative behaviors than any of the other types of behavior. We intend to use these results to help define future research experiments that will evaluate the effectiveness of specific gaining cooperation behaviors across a broad spectrum of interview situations.
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