Research RAT - Refusal avoidance training

Based on Groves/McGonagle (2001) and interviewer manuals of the "Survey Research Center" (Michigan) instructional materials of a German "Refusal Avoidance Training" (RAT) has been developed by our group. The goal of a RAT is reducing refusal rates by teaching interviewers how to deal with doorstep interactions by maintaining interaction with the respondents and tailoring the arguments to them. The RAT-Training was developed for in person teaching of face-to-face interviewers and as a multimedia self-teaching unit for CATI-interviewers.

The RAT-training has been used for interviewer training in two studies in Germany: For training of face-to-face-interviewers in the German-ESS-Wave 2 (n=5883) and for training of telephone interviewers in the new German "Panel Study Labour Market and Social Security" (n = 12000). In both studies quasi experimental designs were used to compare final disposition codes between trained and untrained interviewers. The data indicate that RAT-trained interviewers generate significantly fewer refusals, but a part of this nonresponse reduction is compensated by an increase in other nonresponse categories. Nevertheless, a RAT-Training reduced refusal rates in both studies.


Groves, R.M./McGonagle,K.A. (2001): A Theory Guided Interviewing Training Protocol Regarding Survey Participation; in: Journal of Official Statistics, 17, 2, p. 249-265.


Rainer Schnell and Mark Trappmann (2007): The Effect of a Refusal Avoidance Training (RAT) on Final Disposition Codes in the "Panel Study Labour Market and Social Security", paper to be presented at the second international conference of the European Survey Research Assiation.
Rainer Schnell and Mark Trappmann (2006): The Effect of the Refusal Avoidance Training Experiment on Final Disposition Codes in the German ESS-2. Working Paper, Center for Quantitative Methods and Survey Research, University of Konstanz (download)

Cooperation partners

German ESS group
IAB, Nürnberg
Infas, Bonn
TNS-Infratest, München


German Research Foundation (DFG)