For Willing Survey Respondents, It’s in the Genes

September 2, 2010 ( – A new academic study has given employers a few hints on what makes people willing to complete a survey – on issues such as leadership or workplace stress for example – but it doesn't give all the answers.

The bottom line of a North Carolina State University study: It’s all in the genes. More often than not, those genes tell people to toss the survey in the garbage can.

“We wanted to know whether people are genetically predisposed to ignore requests for survey participation,” says Lori Foster Thompson, an associate professor of psychology, in a university news release. “We found that there is a pretty strong genetic predisposition to not reply to surveys.”

The news release said despite the finding that genetics can play a key factor, additional studies will have to be performed to find out why that it so.

In light of her study, Thompson said “basically we want to know why or how genetics affect people’s predisposition to take surveys. Is the linkage between genetics and survey response explained by personality, attitudes toward employers, or something else entirely?”

According to the news release, researchers sent a survey to more than 1,000 sets of twins – some fraternal, some identical – and then measured who did and did not respond. “We found that the behaviour of one identical twin was a good predictor for the other,” Foster Thompson said, “but that the same did not hold true for fraternal twins. Because all of the sets of twins were raised in the same household, the only distinguishing variable between identical and fraternal twin sets is the fact that identical twins are genetically identical and fraternal twins are not.”