Is Cash Trash?: A Study on Participant Recruitment from the Field


  • Charles Sobocinski, Environmental and Resource Economics, University of Delaware

Faculty Mentor(s)

  • Diya Ganguly, Expirimental and Applied Economics, University of Delaware
  • Kent Messer, Expirimental and Applied Economics, University of Delaware


The issue of recruiting participants for any sort of study plagues all researchers when conducting any sort of social science experiment. Determining the “when” and “how” for attracting participants can be a daunting task. My study seeks to shed light on this issue, using my experience gathering data for an economic research project to add value to others when preparing a study involving people. The study that I collected data in the field offered an $15 cash incentive to participants who successfully completed the survey. When recruiting, I chose two treatments for my opening line when approaching a potential participant: one directly stating the incentive, and a control simply asking if they would like to participate in research. The goal of these treatments is to determine if participants are more interested in the potential financial gain from participating in the study or if they are more interested in simply participating in the research to benefit the cause.