Methodological comparisons between CATI event history calendar and standardized conventional questionnaire instruments

Robert F. Belli, Lynette M. Smith, Patricia M. Andreski, Sangeeta Agrawal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Six hundred and twenty-six participants from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) were interviewed via telephone retrospectively about life course events by either computer-assisted (CATI) event history calendar (EHC) or standardized CATI conventional questionnaire (CQ) methods, randomly assigned. Experimental retrospective reports, for a reference period up to 30 years, were validated against reports provided annually from the PSID core interviews. Data quality outcome measures included variables associated with marriage, cohabitation, employment, unemployment, residential changes, and cigarette smoking. The EHC provided higher quality retrospective reports for cohabitation, employment, unemployment, and smoking histories; the CQ provided better data quality for marriage history, although what variable was being measured, instead of which method was being used, had the biggest impact on differences in data quality. Both EHC and CQ interviews lasted on average around one hour, with the EHC interviews being on average 10 percent longer. Interviewers preferred the EHC interviews. In both EHC and CQ conditions, respondents generally enjoyed the interviews, and did not find questions difficult. The costs and benefits of both EHC and CQ methods in the collection of life course retrospective reports are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)603-622
Number of pages20
JournalPublic Opinion Quarterly
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences(all)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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