Sociology, Department of


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Presented at “Interviewers and Their Effects from a Total Survey Error Perspective Workshop,” University of Nebraska-Lincoln, February 26-28, 2019.


Copyright 2019 by the authors.


The pace at which interviewers read survey questions may vary considerably across interviewers (e.g., Cannell, Miller, & Oksenberg, 1981) and as a function of interviewer experience (Olson and Petchev, 2007). The pace at which interviews are conducted can influence respondent perceptions of the importance of interaction (Fowler, 1966). Interviewer training typically includes instructions to read questions slowly and clearly to respondents is based on the assumption that doing so maximizes data quality (e.g., Fowler and Mangione, 1990). In this research, we examine possible causes and consequences of interviewer pace using data from in person surveys conducted with respondents from four racial and ethnic groups: non-Hispanic White, non-Hispanic Black, Mexican-American, and Korean-American respondents. All respondents were interviewed by respondents of the same race. Using HLM models, we examine the extent to which question characteristics (e.g., length, sensitivity, etc.) influence interviewer pace and the extent to which pace is associated with interviewer (e.g., not reading the question completely) and respondent (e.g., giving a response that does not meet the question objective) behaviors believed to be associated with lowered survey data quality. We discuss implications of our findings for standardized interviewer training.