The use of interaction coding and follow-up interviews to investigate comprehension of survey questions 

Jean Morton-Williams 
Wendy Sykes
Then Social & Community Planning Research



The quantitative survey interview depends on the asking of precisely worded questions by the interviewer, and the understanding and answering of those questions by the respondent. Cannell et al. (1981) suggest a model of the respondents task, in five steps.

  1. Comprehension of the question

  2. Cognitive processing to arrive at an answer including 
    (a) Assessments and decisions concerning the information needed for an accurate answer
    (b) Retrieval of cognitions (attitudes, beliefs, experiences, facts)
    (c) Organisation of the retrieved cognitions and formulation of the response on this basis