The Influence of Interviewer Presence and Survey Mode on Question Sensitivity: Results From a Fake Good/Fake Bad Experiment

Annemiek Wegkamp, Yfke Ongena, Marieke Haan



This paper examines whether interviewer presence and survey mode affect the sensitivity of questions in survey interviews. A comparison is made between web surveys and paper & pencil surveys. A fake good/fake bad experiment was designed to find out which questions of the European Social Survey are sensitive to respondents. In such an experiment respondents are asked to intentionally give either socially desirable answers (fake good) or socially undesirable answers (fake bad). A sample of 120 students was randomly assigned to 1 of 8 conditions with survey mode (web versus paper & pencil), interviewer presence (either or not showing a picture of an interviewer) and fake good versus fake bad answering as independent variables. Half of the sample were asked to fake good, the other half were asked to fake bad. The results showed that, similar to earlier fake good/fake bad experiments, the two groups gave significantly different answers to all questions that were suspected to be sensitive. We argue that the criterion to determine whether questions are sensitive should not focus exclusively on significance. The variance of the scores in the fake bad condition was systematically higher than the variance in the fake good condition. This may mean that respondents either are less determined about what is socially undesirable than about what is socially desirable, or it simply means that faking good is easier(to understand) than faking bad.
Originele taal-2English
StatusPublished - 2014
EvenementVI European Congress of Methodology - University of Utrecht, Utrecht, Netherlands
Duur: 23-jul-201425-jul-2014


ConferenceVI European Congress of Methodology

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