Memory, communication, and data quality in calendar interviews

Robert F. Belli, Ipek Bilgen, Tarek Al Baghal

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Calendar instruments are hypothesized to promote data quality through the increased use of retrieval cues and conversational probes intended to clarify meanings. This research explores these hypotheses by examining the associations between retrieval and conversational verbal behaviors and data-quality measures. A verbal behavior coding scheme was applied to transcripts of 165 calendar interviews that collected life-course information on residence, marriage, employment, and unemployment from respondents in the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID). Confirmatory factor analyses revealed three latent factors for interviewers (retrieval probes, rapport behaviors, and conversational behaviors intended to satisfy questionnaire objective) and three latent factors for respondents (retrieval strategies, rapport, and conversational behaviors indicative of difficulty being interviewed). Ratios of discrepancies in annual totals between retrospective calendar reports and reports collected for up to thirty years in the PSID over the total number of available years were used as measures of data quality. Regression analyses show that the level of behavior and the level of experiential complexity interact in their effect on data quality. Both interviewer and respondent retrieval behaviors are associated with better data quality when the retrieval task is more difficult but poorer accuracy when experiential complexity is low. Both interviewer and respondent rapport behaviors are associated with reduced error for complex employment histories but convey mixed results with marriage and unemployment histories. Patterns of results for interviewer conversational and respondent difficulty being interviewed behaviors are likewise inconsistent. Results do not completely confirm hypotheses but nevertheless have implications regarding interviewing practice and suggest directions for future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)194-219
Number of pages26
JournalPublic Opinion Quarterly
Issue numberS1
StatePublished - 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • General Social Sciences
  • History and Philosophy of Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Memory, communication, and data quality in calendar interviews'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this