How do you prevent attrition?

To avoid attrition, applying some of these measures can help you reduce participant dropout by making it easy and appealing for participants to stay.

  • Provide compensation (e.g., cash or gift cards) for attending every session
  • Minimize the number of follow-ups as much as possible
  • Make all follow-ups brief, flexible, and convenient for participants
  • Send participants routine reminders to schedule follow-ups
  • Recruit more participants than you need for your sample (oversample)
  • Maintain detailed contact information so you can get in touch with participants even if they move

What is attrition bias?

Attrition bias is the selective dropout of some participants who systematically differ from those who remain in the study.

Some groups of participants may leave because of bad experiences, unwanted side effects, or inadequate incentives for participation, among other reasons. Attrition is also called subject mortality, but it doesn’t always refer to participants dying!

What’s the difference between demand characteristics and social desirability bias?

Demand characteristics are aspects of experiments that may give away the research purpose to participants. Social desirability bias is when participants automatically try to respond in ways that make them seem likeable in a study, even if it means misrepresenting how they truly feel.

Participants may use demand characteristics to infer social norms or experimenter expectancies and act in socially desirable ways, so you should try to control for demand characteristics wherever possible.

Why do demand characteristics matter in research?

Demand characteristics are a type of extraneous variable that can affect the outcomes of the study. They can invalidate studies by providing an alternative explanation for the results.

These cues may nudge participants to consciously or unconsciously change their responses, and they pose a threat to both internal and external validity. You can’t be sure that your independent variable manipulation worked, or that your findings can be applied to other people or settings.

What are demand characteristics?

In research, demand characteristics are cues that might indicate the aim of a study to participants. These cues can lead to participants changing their behaviors or responses based on what they think the research is about.

Demand characteristics are common problems in psychology experiments and other social science studies because they can cause a bias in your research findings.