Askers Make Answers Unreliable

Askers, as is the case for instruments and settings, affect answers and, thereby, make them unreliable. Answers may be accurate and correspond to what’s really going on, or they may not. Because askers only have answers, it’s impossible for them (or anyone else) to determine which, if any, are accurate or inaccurate. The only way to know is to check or verify answers with data from non-asking sources; such as observations or experiments. Askers/survey researchers do not have data from non-asking sources; all they have is unreliable information.

Characteristics of askers that cue and induce, and thereby make unreliable, the answers they receive include their styles of behavior (e.g. asking questions rapidly, pausing, voice intonation, and so on) as well as their personal attributes; such as judgments when coding responses, experiences, competencies, ethnicity, socioeconomic features, gender, and age.

This post is from my book, The Problem with Survey Research, pp. 199-207, where documentation is provided, and on pp. 207-78 there’s an extended discussion of the characteristics and behaviors of askers.

About George Beam

I'm an educator and author. The perspectives that inform my interpretations of the topics of this blog are behaviorism and system analysis. Specific interests include American politics, socioeconomic issues, survey research, and effects of the Internet and attendant hard- and software. I'm Associate Professor Emeritus, Department of Public Administration, Affiliated Faculty, Department of Political Science, University of Illinois at Chicago.
This entry was posted in Survey Research and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.