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Event history calendars and question list surveys - A direct comparison of interviewing methods

Publication Abstract

Belli, R.F., W.L. Shay, and Frank P. Stafford. 2001. "Event history calendars and question list surveys - A direct comparison of interviewing methods." Public Opinion Quarterly, 65(1): 45-74.

The research reported in this article provides the first direct experimental comparison between Event History Calendar (EHC; N = 309; 84.4 percent response rate) and standardized state-of-the-art question list (Q-list; N = 307; 84.1 percent response rate) interviewing methodologies. Respondents and 20 interviewers were randomly assigned to EHC and Q-list interviews that were conducted via telephone in the spring of 1998. All interviews asked for retrospective reports on social and economic behaviors that occurred during the calendar years of 1996 and 1997. Using data from the same respondents collected 1 year earlier on events reported during 1996 as a standard of comparison, the quality of retrospective reports on 1996 events from the 1998 administration of EHC and Q-list interviews was assessed. In comparison to the Q-list, the EHC condition led to better-quality retrospective reports on moves, income, weeks unemployed, and weeks missing work resulting from self illness, the illness of another, or missing work for these reasons in combination with other ones. For reports of household members entering the residence, and number of jobs, the EHC led to significantly more overreporting than the Q-list. Contingent on additional research that examines a wider range of reference periods and different modes of interviewing, the EHC may become a viable and potentially superior method to the Q-list in the collection of self-reported retrospective information.

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