Home > Publications . Search All . Browse All . Country . Browse PSC Pubs . PSC Report Series

PSC In The News

RSS Feed icon

Former trainee Herbert says residential squatters may be a good thing

Work by Couper, Farley et al. shows impact of racial composition on neighborhood choice

Thompson details killings and shaping of official narrative in 1971 Attica prison uprising

More News

Highlights

Michigan ranked #12 on Business Insider's list of 50 best American colleges

Frey's new report explores how the changing US electorate could shape the next 5 presidential elections, 2016 to 2032

U-M's Data Science Initiative offers expanded consulting services via CSCAR

Elizabeth Bruch promoted to Associate Professor

Next Brown Bag

PSC Brown Bags
will resume fall 2016

Promoting uniform question understanding in today's and tomorrow's surveys

Archived Abstract of Former PSC Researcher

Conrad, Frederick G., and M.F. Schober. 2005. "Promoting uniform question understanding in today's and tomorrow's surveys." Journal of Official Statistics, 21(2): 215-231.

Survey respondents misunderstand questions more frequently than one might expect but, current methods for collecting data make it hard to detect and correct misunderstanding. The conventional practice has been to leave the interpretation of questions up to respondents; interviewers react to requests for clarification with nondirective probes like "Let me repeat the question." The current article reviews a research program that has explored alternatives to standardized wording, in which interviewers and web survey systems can define survey concepts as needed as a way to assure uniform comprehension across respondents. One problem is that many respondents fail to recognize that their understanding is not aligned with the survey sponsors' and so do not ask for clarification - a problem that, we argue, is more serious in the survey response task than other tasks in which information is exchanged. Using today's survey techniques (telephone and face-to-face interviews, web surveys) it is possible to increase respondents' sensitivity to their own misunderstanding, increasing their requests for clarification; and, based on respondents' verbal and visual cues of comprehension difficulty, it is possible to intervene to correct misunderstanding. This approach can be extended in surveys of the future by incorporating mature speech recognition capabilities, modeling respondent uncertainty about question meaning so that when clarification is needed it can be provided automatically, and developing interface agents when appropriate. By evaluating simulated versions of these technologies in the near term researchers will be better able exploit them as they become available.

Keywords:

Public Access Link

Browse | Search : All Pubs | Next