Social Presence in Online Surveys

Alexander W. Schmidt-Catran, Katharina Hörstermann


Today, online surveys belong to the standard instruments of most survey research institutes, but some methodical questions are still unanswered. This study deals with the question of whether the simulation of social presence has an effect on the response style. Using an experimental design, the effects of social presence on non-response and socially desirable answers are tested. We expect social presence to lower non-response but to induce socially desirable answers. Topics of the survey are attitudes towards sexism, gender roles and the participation of women in the labor market. Social presence is simulated by pictures of the “investigators” of the study. In addition to the effect of social presence, the study investigates whether the gender and the attractiveness of the person on the pictures have an effect on the answers. This effect might be called a “gender-of-interviewer”- effect. Concerning the non-response rate no positive effect of social presence could be found. The results with regard to social desirability and a possible gender-of-interviewer-effect are ambiguous but show significant differences between the control group and our experimental groups.

Full Text:

PDF (Deutsch)



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2017 Alexander W. Schmidt-Catran, Katharina Hörstermann

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.