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Misunderstanding Standardized Language in Research Interviews

Archived Abstract of Former PSC Researcher

Schober, M.F., Frederick G. Conrad, and S.S. Fricker. 2004. "Misunderstanding Standardized Language in Research Interviews." Applied Cognitive Psychology, 18:169-188.

Leaving the interpretation of words up to participants in standardized Survey interviews, aptitude tests, and experiment instructions can lead to unintended interpretation; more collaborative interviewing methods can promote uniform understanding. In two laboratory Studies (a factorial experiment and a more naturalistic investigation), respondents interpreted ordinary survey concepts like 'household furniture' and 'living in it house' quite differently than intended in strictly standardized interviews, when the interpretation was left entirely up to them. Comprehension was more accurate when interviewers responded to requests for clarification with non-standardized paraphrased definitions, and most accurate when interviewers also provided clarification whenever they suspected respondents needed it. Copyright (C) 2004 John Wiley Sons, Ltd.

DOI:10.1002/acp.955 (Full Text)

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