Project Design

WECT Project Design


Participants in this research were members of an online panel administered by Qualtrics Labs, Inc. and their subcontractor, the survey research firm Survey Sampling International (SSI). We employed Qualtrics Labs, Inc. to conduct two large-scale data collections. The first lasted from September 2011 to December 2011. The second lasted from January 2012 to April 2012. We refer to these studies as WECT2011 and WECT2012, respectively. WECT2011 participants were not eligible to participate in WECT2012. Both studies had the same design, although there were several differences between them.

Employment characteristics. Of the 1,514 employees who participated in the WECT Project (2011 and 2012 combined), 47.2% worked in management, business, science, and arts occupations, 12.3% worked in service occupations, 18.1% worked in sales and office occupations, 5.4% worked in natural resources, construction, and maintenance occupations, 6.2% worked in production, transportation, and material moving occupations, 0.8% worked in military specific occupations, and 10.0% indicated that they worked in some other type of occupation. The majority of the participants worked in private for-profit companies (66.6%); 10.6% worked for private non-profit organizations, 14.7% worked for the local, state, or federal government, and 8% were self-employed. The median annual income of these participants was $44,000 (M = $52,962, SD = $43,547, Range = $0 to $750,000), and their tenure at their jobs ranged from less than one month to more than 48 years (M = 81.26 months, SD = 83.58 months).

Demographic characteristics. The 1,514 employees who participated in the WECT Project were a diverse group of American adults. They lived in all 50 U.S. states, as well as the District of Columbia, and their ages ranged from 18 to 71 years (M = 39.32 years, SD = 11.37). Half of them were women (n = 757). In terms of race/ethnicity, the sample contained White (75.2%), Black (9.2%), Hispanic (5.5%), Asian (3.6%), and other / multi-racial (6.3%) participants.


The survey research firm contacted panel members with an invitation to participate in a study examining people’s experiences at work. To be eligible for this study, participants were required to be 18 years or older and have full-time employment (working 35 or more hours per week). They had to consent to complete a 30-minute online survey each week for 12 weeks, as well as an hour-long initial survey and final survey. An additional requirement for participation was to invite a co-worker to participate in the study in week 4 of the project. Participants received compensation from for their participation ($53 for WECT2011 and $37 for WECT2012). Those who missed surveys or terminated their participation early received partial compensation based on the number of surveys they completed.

Participants in the WECT studies completed a total of 15 surveys over the course of three-months. These included an initial survey (approximately 60 to 75 minutes in duration), twelve weekly surveys (approximately 20 to 30 minutes in duration), and a final survey (approximately 45 to 60 minutes in duration). The initial survey and final survey were largely identical to one another, but the initial survey contained several measures not included in the final survey. These surveys assessed participants’ demographic characteristics, personality, character, and work environment. The 12 weekly surveys were different from the initial and final surveys. The weekly surveys assessed participants’ emotions, work experiences, and work behaviors.

In the WECT2012 study, all participants who completed the initial survey were sent subsequent survey invitations each week. So, it was possible for participants to miss a weekly survey, but complete later surveys. However, in the WECT2011 study, participants who missed a weekly survey were not sent survey invitations in subsequent weeks, due to an error by the survey research firm. This error was discovered in week 10. After this discovery, all participants were sent invitations for the remaining surveys (i.e., the weekly surveys for weeks 10, 11, and 12, and the final survey). Because of this sampling error by the research firm, many of the weekly surveys in WECT2011 were sent out to only a subset of participants–this compromises the generalizability of the data from those weeks. We conducted WECT2012 to address this problem from WECT2011.

Sample Sizes

Data collection for the project was completed in April 2012. The initial survey was completed by a total of 1,514 participants, and the final survey was completed by 845 participants. Thus we have test-retest data from 845 participants (55.8% of the initial sample).

In week four of the study, 683 participants provided a valid email address of a coworker (420 invited in WECT2011; 263 invited in WECT2012). Of the 420 coworkers that were invited to take the coworker-survey in WECT2011, 215 completed it (51.2% response rate). Of the 263 coworkers that were invited to take the coworker-survey in WECT2012, 126 completed it (47.9%). Thus, we have self-reports and coworker-reports from a total of 341 participants (22.5% of the initial sample).

Participants completed the final survey between 85 and 104 days after they completed the initial survey (M = 90.63 days, SD = 3.52). The coworkers completed the coworker-survey between 31 and 88 days after participants completed the initial survey (M = 39.15 days, SD = 9.11). The coworkers who participated reported knowing the participants “quite well” on average (M = 4.19, SD = 0.74; ratings made on a five-point scale anchored by 1 = not very well and 5 = extremely well). The length of time the coworkers knew one another varied from two months to 50 years.

Bad Data

In addition to the 1,514 participants in the study, 76 other people (29 in WECT2011; 47 in WECT2012) completed surveys but were subsequently purged from the WECT Project files for providing bad data (e.g., random strings of letters to open-ended questions). These respondents were identified by close inspection of the data provided in each of the surveys. Respondents who provided questionable data in any survey were removed from the WECT Project files prior to any data analysis.