The Effects of Interviewer Characteristics on Co-operation in Face-to-Face Surveys

Publication type

Conference Paper


University of Konstanz, Empirical Social Research seminar


Publication date

June 24, 2009


This paper examines the role of interviewers’ experience, attitudes, personality traits and inter-personal skills in determining survey co-operation. We take the perspective that these characteristics influence interviewers’ behaviour and hence influence the doorstep interaction between interviewer and sample member. Previous studies of the association between doorstep behaviour and co-operation have not directly addressed the role of personality traits and inter-personal skills and have been based on small samples of interviewers, making it difficult to identify interviewer-level effects. We use a large sample of 845 face-to-face interviewers working for a major survey institute and analyse co-operation outcomes for over 100,000 cases contacted by those interviewers over a 13-month period. We examine to what extent previous studies’ findings of an association between interviewer experience and co-operation propensity, and between interviewer socio-demographic characteristics and co-operation propensity, are explained by differences in personality traits and inter-personal skills. We also seek to identify whether variation in traits and skills contribute to variation in co-operation rates after controlling for other interviewer characteristics.

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