Respondents Make Answers Unreliable

Respondents make answers unreliable; that is, their answers may or may not be correct and when all you have are answers it’s impossible to determine which, if any, are correct or incorrect.  Zoë Heller, in her review of Jennifer Senior’s asking-based effort, All Joy and no Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthooddescribes and explains the unreliability of the answers given by parents interviewed by Senior: “It’s possible, of course,that some parents are lying, or at least sentimentalizing the truth, when they offer up [their] sort of rosy `end-of-the-day’ verdict on parenthood. (There are strong social and emotional incentives for not publicly expressing remorse about one’s reproductive choices.)”

I’ve also reviewed Senior’s essentially worthless book  on

For a complete statement of how respondents make answers unreliable, see my book, The Problem with Survey Research.

About georgebeam

George Beam is an educator and author. The perspectives that inform his interpretations of the topics of this blog–-as well as his other writings and university courses -–are system analysis, behaviorism, and Internet effects. Specific interests include quality management, methodology, and politics. He is Associate Professor Emeritus, Department of Public Administration; Affiliated Faculty, Department of Political Science; and, previously, Head, Department of Public Administration, University of Illinois at Chicago
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