ACSPRI Conferences, RC33 Eighth International Conference on Social Science Methodology

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Preloads as a stimulus in a life course panel survey

Britta Matthes, Michael Ruland, Annette Trahms

Building: Law Building
Room: Breakout 8 - Law Building, Room 100
Date: 2012-07-11 03:30 PM – 05:00 PM
Last modified: 2012-06-12


Preloads – prior information about the sample member – are important for surveys in different ways: to identify the person who will be interviewed or will be a part of the interested sample, to filter questions during the interview in order to reduce the interview duration and, to interview dependently – what is the main focus of our presentation. Depending on the preload interview questions and/or the wording of the questions are varied. Especially proactive depending interviewing is becoming widely used in panel surveys because of their potential to reduce burden, increase efficiency, and reduce measurement errors like the seam effect (cf. Jäckle/Lynn 2004). Proactive dependent interviewing, in contrast to reactive dependent interviewing whereas the information from the prior interview is offered only in reaction to certain responses, uses the information from the previous interview to stimulate the memory as part of the questioning process (Brown et al, 1998). However, proactive dependent interviewing not always performs as desired. Sometimes the preload don’t become an anchor in the cognitive reconstruction process during the interview. In our presentation we examine theoretically under which conditions preload transfers from being stimuli to an anchor in a retrospective life course panel interview. We describe how we used preloads in the partial study “Adult Education and Lifelong Learning” conducted by the National Educational Panel Study (NEPS). And, by analyzing the probability to disagree with the preload, we answer how important the quality of the used preload, the number of events that have to been updated in the current area of life and, the used method to implement the preload into the questionnaire is for anchoring.