Don A. Dillman

Regents Professor

Ph.D., Iowa State University, 1969


Survey Methodology, Community, Diffusion of Technology

Research Interests

For more than twenty years I have been investigating how different visual languages (words, graphics, symbols, and numbers) independently and collectively influence answers to survey questions in web and paper surveys. I am also interested in how the use of visual language in such surveys may influence respondents to provide different answers than they do in aural language surveys by telephone. The results of this research are being used to develop guidelines (see 2014 book listed below) for designing and conducting mixed-mode surveys, which are becoming increasingly important as a means of improving the accuracy of survey results. During the last decade my research has transitioned to using the results of previous research to design successful web-push surveys, i.e. contacting people by mail with a request to answer a survey over the Internet, and later following up with an alternative mode of response such as mail. These methods serve as a critically needed replacement for telephone surveys that are now experiencing dismal response rates. The web-push methods developed through dozens of experiments implemented by the Social and Economic Research Center, where I have a joint appointment, are now in use throughout the world. They have been used for censuses in Japan, Australia, Canada, China, and the United States, as well as sample surveys in dozens of other countries. My most recent research efforts now focus on gaining a better theoretical understanding of why people do and do not respond to surveys.

Selected Publications

Dillman, Don A. Jolene D. Smith and Leah Christian. 2014. Internet, Phone, Mail and Mixed-Mode Surveys: The Tailored Design Method. 4th edition, 499 pages. John Wiley” Hoboken, NJ

Dillman, D.A. 2017. The promise and challenge of pushing respondents to the Web in mixed-mode surveys. Survey Methodology, Statistics Canada, Catalogue No. 12-001-X, Vol. 43, No. 1. Paper available as PDF (English):

Dillman, Don A.  2020.  Chapter 2. Towards Survey Response Rate Theories that no longer pass each other like strangers in the night.  In Brenner, Philip.  Understanding Survey Methodology: Sociological theory and applications.  Springer. 978-3-030-47255-9

Bretschi, David, Schauer, Ines, and Dillman, Don A.   In Press.   “An Experimental Comparison of Three Strategies for Converting Mail Respondents in a Probability-Based Mixed-Mode Panel to Internet Respondents, Journal of Survey Statistics and Methodology.

Greenberg, Pierce and Dillman, Don A.  In Press. “Mail Communications and Survey Response: A Test of Social Exchange vs. Pre-suasion Theory for Improving Response Rates and Data Quality” Journal of Survey Statistics and Methodology.


Don Dillman.

(509) 335-4150

Wilson-Short Hall 137

Curriculum Vitae