The Fine Print: The Effect of Legal/Regulatory Language on Mail Survey Response

Many government-funded surveys are required to include regulatory language, including (in the United States) Paperwork Reduction Act and Privacy Act statements. However, little research has been done on the effect of these statements on survey response. We report on responses to a mail survey in which we experimentally varied the length of the Privacy Act statement printed on the questionnaire. We find no effect of the longer versus shorter statement on survey response rates or on the response to questions deemed sensitive.