Journal of Official Statistics, Vol.8, No.1, 1992. pp. 517

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Cognitive Aspects of Surveys: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

Since the early 1980s, the movement to study cognitive aspects of surveys has offered a new perspective on an important class of measurement errors, long studied by survey researchers. We present a brief history of the movement. We then examine what we see as some major achievements of the movement so far. These are the establishment of the government laboratories in the United States, with a parallel new sensitivity to cognitive methods and findings; and the reconsideration of older research and conceptualization s under the cognitive rubric. Finally, we stress the importance of appropriate design for embedded experiments to study cognitive aspects of surveys. We conclude with the suggestion of continuous embedded experimentation in on-going surveys.

Cognitive laboratories; experimental design; generalizability; non-sampling errors; questionnaire design; sample survey design.

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