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1993 Hansen Lecture

Norbert Schwarz, ISR, University of Michigan
"What Respondents Learn from Questionnaires: The Survey Interview and the Logic of Conversation"
International Statistical Review, 63(2), pp. 149-177.

Opening remarks: Robert Groves, JPSM, U. of Maryland-U. of Michigan-Westat.

David Cantor, Westat, Inc.
Eleanor Singer, ISR, U. of Michigan.

Abstract: Drawing on psychological theories of language comprehension and conversational conduct, I review what respondents learn from various features of questionnaires, including the response alternatives and the context in which a question is asked. This review indicates that many apparent "artifacts" in survey measurement reflect a systematic and thoughtful use of contextual information that is licensed by the tacit rules that govern the conduct of conversation in daily life. Implications for questionnaire construction are discussed.