How face-to-face interviews and cognitive skill affect item non-response: A randomized experiment assigning mode of interview

Andrew Gooch, Lynn Vavreck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Technology and the decreased cost of survey research have made it possible for researchers to collect data using new and varied modes of interview. These data are often analyzed as if they were generated using similar processes, but the modes of interview may produce differences in response simply due to the presence or absence of an interviewer. In this paper, we explore the differences in item non-response that result from different modes of interview and find that mode makes a difference. The data are from an experiment in which we randomly assigned an adult population to an in-person or self-completed survey after subjects agreed to participate in a short poll. For nearly every topic and format of question, we find less item non-response in the self-complete mode. Furthermore, we find the difference across modes in non-response is exacerbated for respondents with low levels of cognitive abilities. Moving from high to low levels of cognitive ability, an otherwise average respondent can be up to six times more likely to say don't know in a face-to-face interview than in a self-completed survey, depending on the type of question.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)143-162
Number of pages20
JournalPolitical Science Research and Methods
Volume7
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations

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