Journal of Official Statistics, Vol.20, No.2, 2004. pp. 219232

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A Questionnaire Design for Dependent Interviewing that Addresses the Problem of Cognitive Satisficing

This article discusses the implementation of proactive dependent interviewing (PDI) in the setting of a large-scale socio-economic panel survey, where respondents participate using self-administered questionnaires on the web. The respondents’ task of reporting detailed information for topics such as “income” and “assets and liabilities” is both tedious and demanding, and is consequently susceptible to measurement error. In order to reduce both measurement error and respondent burden, it is recommendable to use previously gathered data. To overcome this problem, PDI was incorporated into the design of a questionnaire on “assets and liabilities.” However, a well-known problem with PDI is the threat of “cognitive satisficing”: respondents may be tempted to ease their task by reporting no change. This problem was met by implementing PDI in such a way that the respondent received few benefits when they reported no change. The result of this chosen strategy was a considerable improvement in data quality.

Dependent interviewing, preloading, computerized self-administrative questionnaires, data quality, respondent burden

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