Understanding Society Working Paper Series 2021-05
How do survey respondents decide whether to consent to data linkage?
08 Dec 2021
Linkages between surveys and administrative data provide an important opportunity for social and health research, but such linkages often require the informed consent of respondents. We use experimental data collection across five different samples to study how consent decisions are made. Only about a third of respondents report using a “reflective” decision process, considering the consequences of consent or their trust in the relevant organisations. Many more use an “instinctive” process (such as “gut feeling”). More reflective decision processes are associated with higher rates of consent, greater comprehension of the proposed data linkage and greater confidence in the decision.