Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Byron R. Burnham


In this study, a theory that identified salience and immediacy as two constructs that significantly determine questionnaire response rates was tested. This theory emphasized the importance of identifying and rating factors that impact the immediacy and salience of a questionnaire to a specific population. It was proposed that factors that make a questionnaire highly immediate and salient to a given population should be identified first, and then implemented into the construction and administration of the questionnaire. In this way, researchers can manipulate the variables, which will maximize the response rate for their specific population before distribution. A questionnaire that is highly immediate and salient to a given population was estimated to achieve a response rate of 80% or higher.

The immediacy and salience of several manipulable variables of a questionnaire were rated by a sample characteristically similar to the target population. Three treatments of the questionnaire were sent to three randomly assigned groups of the population. These treatments varied from low, moderate, to high immediacy and salience based on the ratings.

An analysis of the ratings revealed a very strong direct relationship between salience and immediacy. Variables of the questionnaire were rated very similarly between the two constructs. Contrary to Christensen's theory, different levels of immediacy and salience were not found to interact. However, a direct relationship was found between immediacy and salience levels, and final response rates, which was consistent with the theory. The order of response rate percentages for each treatment group reflected the degree of immediacy and salience as measured by the raters.

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