Effects of Interviewer Attitudes and Behaviors on Refusal in Household Surveys

G.B. Durrant, B Groves, L Staetsky, FA Steele

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

106 Citations (Scopus)


Interviewers play a crucial role in gaining cooperation from a sample unit. This paper aims to identify the interviewer characteristics that influence survey cooperation. Of principal interest to survey practitioners are interviewer attributes associated with higher cooperation rates, particularly among sample members whose characteristics are traditionally associated with a lower probability of response. Our data source is unusually rich, in that it contains extensive information on interviewers, including their attitudes and behaviors, which are linked to detailed information on both responding and nonresponding sample units. An important value of the data is that they permit examining a host of as yet unanswered questions about whether some interviewer attributes stimulate cooperation among some respondents but not others. In short, we investigate whether some sample units react favorably to certain interviewer characteristics. A multilevel cross-classified logistic model with random interviewer effects is used to account for clustering of households within interviewers, due to unmeasured interviewer attributes, and for the cross-classification of interviewers within areas. The model allows for statistical interactions between interviewer and household characteristics. We find that interviewer confidence and attitudes toward persuading reluctant respondents play an important role in explaining between-interviewer variation in refusal rates. We also find evidence of interaction effects between the interviewer and householder, for example with respect to gender and educational level, supporting the notion of similarity between interviewers and respondents generating higher cooperation. The results are discussed with respect to potential implications for survey practice and design.
Translated title of the contributionEffects of Interviewer Attitudes and Behaviors on Refusal in Household Surveys
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1 - 36
Number of pages37
JournalPublic Opinion Quarterly
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2010

Bibliographical note

Publisher: Oxford University Press


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