It’s a no-brainer that surveys are conducted primarily to benefit the surveyor, not the respondent.

That is why market research firms sometimes pay a financial incentive (around $140AUD for one hour seems common in Australia) for people to agree to participate.

I can think of some situations, though, where responding to a survey might also benefit the respondent:

  • industry associations collecting the opinions of their members via a survey to develop a lobbying position – members (the respondent) have a desire to participate so that their interests are represented
  • a university surveying other universities on the structure of their faculties – a university (the respondent) might be curious to know how their practices compare with other universities
  • an athlete taking part in a sports survey on ‘impact of nutrition on endurance performance’ and answering questions like ‘do you drink water with your gels? how often do you eat a gel? do you eat more gels in hot temperatures?’ – the survey questions might prompt the athlete (the respondent) to reflect on their own ways of doing things.

All these examples of possible motivating factors to participate in a survey might lead, I think, to ‘self-selection bias’, which Professor Google describes as:

  • In statistics, self-selection bias arises in any situation in which individuals select themselves into a group, causing a biased sample with nonprobability sampling. It is commonly used to describe situations where the characteristics of the people which cause them to select themselves in the group create abnormal or undesirable conditions in the group.
  • Self-selection bias is a major problem in research in sociology, psychology, economics and many other social sciences. In such fields, a poll suffering from such bias is termed a self-selected listener opinion poll or “SLOP”.
  • It is closely related to the Non-response bias, describing when the group of people responding has different responses than the group of people not responding.

Winter tree and AMP in Melbourne



  • Breakfast: weet-bix and soy milk, toast with eggs, mushroom, bacon
  • Lunch: conference food – vege sandwiches
  • Dinner: potato, salad, capsicum
  • Other: more weet-bix and soy milk


  • NONE. An early night tonight and hopefully an easy run tomorrow morning.