Using data mining to predict the occurrence of respondent retrieval strategies in calendar interviewing: the quality of retrospective reports

Publication type

Journal Article


Publication date

September 15, 2016


Determining which verbal behaviors of interviewers and respondents are dependent on one another is a complex problem that can be facilitated via data-mining approaches. Data are derived from the interviews of 153 respondents of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) who were interviewed about their life-course histories. Behavioral sequences of interviewer-respondent interactions that were most predictive of respondents spontaneously using parallel, timing, duration, and sequential retrieval strategies in their generation of answers were examined. We also examined which behavioral sequences were predictive of retrospective reporting data quality as shown by correspondence between calendar responses with responses collected in prior waves of the PSID. The verbal behaviors of immediately preceding interviewer and respondent turns of speech were assessed in terms of their co-occurrence with each respondent retrieval strategy. Interviewers’ use of parallel probes is associated with poorer data quality, whereas interviewers’ use of timing and duration probes, especially in tandem, is associated with better data quality. Respondents’ use of timing and duration strategies is also associated with better data quality and both strategies are facilitated by interviewer timing probes. Data mining alongside regression techniques is valuable to examine which interviewer-respondent interactions will benefit data quality.

Published in

Journal of Official Statistics

Volume and page numbers

Volume: 32 , p.579 -600






Open Access

© 2016 Robert F. Belli et al., published by De Gruyter Open.

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License. (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)



Latest findings, new research

Publications search

Search all research by subject and author


Researchers discuss their findings and what they mean for society


Background and context, methods and data, aims and outputs


Conferences, seminars and workshops

Survey methodology

Specialist research, practice and study

Taking the long view

ISER's annual report


Key research themes and areas of interest