Studies of Welfare Populations: Data Collection and Research Issues. Respondent as Source of Measurement Error

06/01/2002

Once the respondent comprehends the question, he or she must retrieve the relevant information from memory, make a judgment as to whether the retrieved information matches the requested information, and communicate a response. The retrieval process is potentially fraught with error, including errors of omission and commission. As part of the communication of the response, the respondent must determine whether he or she wishes to reveal the information. Survey instruments often ask questions about socially and personally sensitive topics. It is widely believed, and well documented, that such questions elicit patterns of underreporting (for socially undesirable behaviors and attitudes) as well as overreporting (for socially desirable behaviors and attitudes).

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