Officials in eastern China distributed an answer sheet to a survey on public well-being so that residents could give the "correct" responses, reports say.
The inhabitants of the town of Shiqiao, near Nanjing, were given the answers to the telephone survey about 20 days in advance, the Nanjing Morning Post said.
They were told that those who complied would receive a $290 (£200) prize.
A Communist Party official said the answer sheet had been "for educational purposes", but denied offering money.
The results of the well-being survey, carried out by the provincial Statistics Bureau, showed public satisfaction to be over 96%.
Earlier this month, residents of Shiqiao received a list of 16 questions and answers to the telephone survey gauging whether or not the town had achieved provincial targets for improving public well-being.
According to the Nanjing Morning Post, they included:
- "What was your total family income in 2008? Answer: More than 8,000 yuan ($1172; £800)."
- "If you were to measure happiness on a 100-point scale, how many points would you give yourself? Answer: Between 90 and 100."
Resident Hu Changjun said: "The village officials also sent word around that anyone who was chosen for the survey and who gave the standard answers would receive a 2,000-yuan prize."
Schools also reportedly declared a holiday on the day of the survey, with teachers informing students that they should stay at home to help their parents read out the "correct" answers.
Many residents of a poorer area of Shiqiao meanwhile complained to the newspaper of telephone outages, which stopped them from taking part.
A government official in Nanjing was recently sacked for embezzlement
A local Communist Party official told the Nanjing Morning Post that the town had taken the inspection "very seriously to make sure we would pass".
"The samples were for educational purposes, so that people wouldn't make mistakes if they received a survey call," vice-secretary Zhu said.
Mr Zhu said he knew nothing about any prizes having been offered, but could not rule out that low-level officials might have done so.
Earlier this week, a mid-level Communist Party official in Nanjing was sacked after being photographed wearing a designer watch and smoking expensive cigarettes.
The pictures that appeared on the internet of Zhou Jiugeng, head of a district housing bureau, with a $22 packet of Nanjing Imperial 95 cigarettes and what appeared to be a $14,600 Vacheron Constantin watch prompted public outrage on several Chinese websites.
Mr Zhou was dismissed on Sunday on suspicion of "embezzling public funds to pursue a luxurious personal lifestyle", according to the China Daily newspaper.
China Daily also reported that 40 government officials in Nanjing were being investigated for allegedly accepting gifts worth $21,000 from a local toy company during the last Lunar New Year holiday.