Sociology, Department of


Date of this Version

Spring 2011


Published in Public Opinion Quarterly 75:1 (Spring 2011), pp. 99–114; doi: 10.1093/poq/nfq067 Copyright © 2011 Kristen Olson and Ipek Bilgen. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Association for Public Opinion Research. Used by permission.


Experienced interviewers are commonly thought to achieve better quality survey data than inexperienced interviewers. Yet few empirical examinations of differences in data quality on attitudinal questions for experienced versus inexperienced interviewers exist. In this article, we examine whether experienced and inexperienced interviewers differ in their levels of a commonly evaluated data quality measure—acquiescence—in two national surveys. We hypothesize that experienced interviewers will have higher rates of acquiescence than inexperienced interviewers due to either differential pace or differential behaviors. We find that experienced interviewers obtain higher levels of acquiescent reports than do inexperienced interviewers, even after accounting for potential differences in interviewer and respondent characteristics. These differences across interviewers are not mediated by differential pace of the interview, as measured by interview length, implying that there may be differences in interview behaviors for experienced and inexperienced interviewers. We conclude with implications for survey practice and interviewer training and monitoring.

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