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CHP6 - Choosing a Communication Method

CHP6 - Choosing a Communication Method

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Published by Lyndy Tan

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Published by: Lyndy Tan on Mar 05, 2012
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Choosing a Communication Method
A researcher can conduct a survey by personal interview, telephone, mail, computer or acombination of these.
Personal Interviewing
A personal interview (i.e. face-to-face communication) is a two-way conversation initiated by aninterviewer to obtain information from a participant. The differences in the roles of interviewer and participant are pronounced. They are typically strangers, and the interviewer generallycontrols the topics and patterns of discussion. The consequences of the event are usuallyinsignificant for the participant, who is asked to provide information but has little hope of receiving any immediate or direct benefit from this cooperation.
Evaluation of the Personal Interview
There are real advantages as well as clear limitations to personal interviewing. The greatestvalues lie in the depth of information and detail that can be secured. It far exceeds theinformation secured from telephone and self-administered studies via intercepts, mail surveys or computer. The interviewer can also do more things to improve the quality of the informationreceived than with another method.The absence of assistance in interpreting questions is a clear weakness that can be improved bythe presence of an interviewer. Interviewers can note conditions of the interview, probe withadditional questions and gather supplemental information through observation.Interviewers also have more control than is the case when using other kinds of interrogation.They can pre-screen to ensure the correct participant is replying, and they can set up controlinterviewing conditions. They can use special scoring devices and visual materials, as is donewith computer-assisted personal interviewing (CAPI). Interviewers also can adjust the languageof the interview as they observe any problems and the effects the interview is having on the participant.With such advantages, why would anyone want to use any other survey method? Probably thegreatest reason is that personal interviewing is costly, in terms of both money and time. AADDITIONAL NOTESREV01/0111/LT/CH06
 personal interview may cost anywhere from a few euros to several hundred for an interview witha hard – to – reach person. Costs are particularly high if the study covers a wide geographic areaor has stringent sampling requirements.
Requirement for Success
Three broad conditions must be met in order to have a successful personal interview.1.The participant must possess the information being targeted by the investigativequestions.2.The participant must understand his or her role in the interview as the provider of accurate information.3.The participant must perceive adequate motivation to cooperate.The interviewer can do little about the participants’ information level. Screening questions canqualify participants where there is doubt about their ability to answer. This is the studydesigner’s responsibility. Furthermore, the researcher can ask prospective respondents, in a letter announcing the study and confirming the interview date, to have certain information in hand. In astudy on the contracting behavior of business firms in alliance, for example, one of the authorsasked the respondents to have the contract at hand during the interview.
Increasing Participation
Interviewers can influence participants in many ways. An interviewer can explain what kind of answer is sought, how complete it should be, and in what terms it should be expressed.Interviewers can even do some coaching in the interview, although this can be a biasing factor.Participant motivation is a responsibility of the interviewer. Studies of reactions to many surveysshow that participants can be motivated to participate in personal interviews and, infact, can evenenjoy the experience. In intercept/ self-administered studies, the interviewer’s primary role is toencourage participation as the participant completes the survey on his or her own.The first goal in an interview is to establish a friendly relationship with the participant. Threefactors will help with participant receptiveness.ADDITIONAL NOTESREV01/0111/LT/CH06
1.The participant must believe that the experience will be pleasant and satisfying.2.The participant must believe that answering the survey is an important and worthwhileuse of his or her time.3.The participant must dismiss any mental reservations that he or she might have about participation.The introduction – The participant’s first reaction to the request for an interview is at best aguarded one. Interviewer appearance and action are critical in forming a good first impression.Interviewers should immediately identify themselves by name and organization, and provide anyspecial identification necessary. In this brief but critical period, the interviewer must displayfriendly intentions and stimulate the participant’s interest.The interviewer’s introductory explanations should be no more detailed than necessary. Toomuch information can introduce a bias. However, some participants will demand more detail. For them, the interviewer might explain the objective of the study, its background, how the participant was selected, the confidential nature of the interview, and the benefits of the researchfindings. Researchers must be prepared to deal with questions such as ‘How did you happen to pick me?’ ‘Who gave you my name?’ ‘I don’t know enough about this’ ‘Why don’t you go nextdoor?’ and ‘Why are you doing this study?’If the participant is busy or away – If it is obvious that the participant is busy, it may be a goodidea to give a general introduction and try to stimulate enough interest to arrange an interview atanother time. If the designated participant is not at home, the interviewer should briefly explainthe proposed visit to the person who is contacted. It is desirable to establish good relations withintermediaries since their attitudes can help in contacting the desired participant. Interviewerscontacting participants door to door often leave calling or business cards, which have details of their affiliation and a number where they can be reached to reschedule the interview.Establishing a good relationship – The successful interview is based on rapport – meaning arelationship of confidence and understanding between interviewer and participant. Interviewsituations are often new to participants, and they need help in defining their roles. Theinterviewer can help by conveying that the interview is confidential and important, and that theADDITIONAL NOTESREV01/0111/LT/CH06

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