Sociology, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Interviewer Effects from a Total Survey Error Perspective, ed. Kristen Olson, Jolene D. Smyth, Jennifer Dykema, Allyson L. Holbrook, Frauke Kreuter, and Brady T. West (2020), Boca Raton: CRC Press, pp. 3-15.


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Interviewer-administered surveys are a primary method of collecting information from populations across the United States and the world. Various types of interviewer-administered surveys exist, including large-scale government surveys that monitor populations (e.g., the Current Population Survey), surveys used by the academic community to understand what people think and do (e.g., the General Social Survey), and surveys designed to gauge public opinion at a particular time point (e.g., the Gallup Daily Tracking Poll). Interviewers participate in these data collection efforts in a multitude of ways, including creating lists of housing units for sampling, persuading sampled units to participate, and administering survey questions (Morton-Williams 1993). In an increasing number of surveys, interviewers are also tasked with collecting blood, saliva, and other biomeasures, and asking survey respondents for consent to link survey data to administrative records (Sakshaug 2013). Interviewers are also used in mixed mode surveys to recruit and interview non respondents after less expensive modes like mail and web have failed (e.g., the American Community Survey and the Agricultural Resource Management Survey; de Leeuw 2005; Dillman, Smyth and Christian 2014; Olson et al. 2019). In completing these varied tasks, interviewers affect survey costs and coverage, nonresponse, measurement, and processing errors (Schaeffer, Dykema and Maynard 2010; West and Blom 2017).