Katz and Hyman’s Contributions to the Counter Literature to Survey Research

My blog post, Counter Literature to Survey Research, is a collection of statements that help make the case against survey research as a way to find out what’s really going on.  When I find additional research and comments that demonstrate the fatal flaws of the asking method, I’ll post them separately, as I’m doing here, as well as including them in the Counter Literature to Survey Research.

Here are Katz’s and Hyman’s contributions to the Counter Literature to Survey Research:

An early contribution to the Counter Literature to Survey Research is an article by survey researcher, Daniel Katz: “Do Interviewers Bias Poll Results?” [Public Opinion Quarterly, Vol. 6, No. 2 (Summer 1942), pp. 248-68]. He presents information and analysis that support his affirmative answer: “Interviewers . . . [are] a source of bias in public opinion studies. . . . “[W]hite-collar interviewers . . . [and] working-class interviewers, [t]hough both . . . worked under the same instructions, . . . did not find the same public sentiment [i.e., they did not obtain the same answers] on labor and war issues” (p. 248). Katz demonstrates “the influence of the social status of the interviewer upon the findings he reports” (Ibid). Interviewers A Source Of Bias!


Another early contribution to the Counter Literature to Survey Research is Hyman’s 1944 article assessing respondents, “Do They Tell the Truth?”, in which he answers, not always and–depending upon who’s asking whom about what–not often. “The distortions” between what people say and what they do, Hyman writes, “are significant” (p. 559). [Herbert Hyman, “Do They Tell the Truth?” Public Opinion Quarterly, Vol. 8, No. 4 (Winter, 1944-45), pp. 557-59.] Distortions Significant!

For a complete discussion of the case against survey research, 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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