Research Wonder: A Case for Respondent Pre-Survey Rituals?

What's a Research Wonder?  Read this to find out...

A couple months ago, I listened to a podcast episode called "Sports Superstitions" on a wonderful podcast called Fearless Conversations with Abby Wambach (which, by the way, is a wonderful podcast on a variety of social issues from the perspective of a professional athlete). It brought back memories of long ago (high school) days when I used to pole vault. For a long time I blamed my youth for the rituals that I would perform before and during competition.  How I removed the pole from its cardboard tube, the number of times I rocked back and forth before I started down the runway (three), and even the side of the pit that I used to jump off after I completed a vault (always the left).  

So this morning, when an article in the Harvard Business Review called "Research: Performing a Ritual Before a Stressful Task Improves Performance" came into my morning reading stream, I took notice.  The article is a summary of a larger research paper where the authors find that rituals do reduce anxiety (both self-reported and also physiological measures of anxiety). And the reduction in anxiety improved performance in both public performance and taking a math test. They found that this result continued even when an activity was simply named as a ritual, but not based in any known actual ritual.

This is a powerful idea.  And it got me thinking...

I WONDER...

If the use of a ritual could reduce anxiety among survey responders and lead to better quality data, especially where sensitive items may be asked? Would it lead to more complete data (fewer break-offs and item missing data points)?

AND I WONDER...

If asking participants in a study to perform a ritual would lead them to have a better experience with the survey, leading them to be more accepting of future survey requests?

What do you think? Has anyone studied how anxiety influences survey response quality?  If there is a link there, then efforts to reduce anxiety certainly would theoretically help data quality.

If you missed the earlier post about expressions of gratitude and survey quality, you may want to check that one out too - combined with this thought, there may be something cool to test out. (A gratitude ritual maybe!)