Journal of Official Statistics, Vol.26, No.3, 2010. pp. 481505

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Comparison of Verbal Behaviors between Calendar and Standardized Conventional Questionnaires

This article examines verbal behaviors in 165 calendar and 162 standardized conventional interviews that collected life-course information on residence, cohabitation/marriage, children, education, labor and health from respondents in the Panel Study of Income Dynamics. A verbal behavior coding scheme was developed to categorize different interviewer and respondent behaviors used in the interviews. Using this coding scheme, we examined the differences in the usage of verbal behaviors between calendar and standardized conventional interviews. Findings revealed that calendar instruments encourage the more frequent use of (1) retrieval behaviors indicative of an attempt to encourage effective cuing of past events, (2) conversational behaviors that attempt to ensure a shared meaning between interviewers and respondents, and (3) interviewer probes that risk biasing respondents’ answers. Although possible, it is unclear whether the flexible nature of calendar interviewing regarding the promotion of beneficial retrieval cues and conversational behaviors outweighs the increased risk of biasing respondents’ answers.

Interviewer and respondent behaviors, retrospective reports, standardized interviews, conversational interviews, event history calendar

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