The effect of cati questions, respondents, and interviewers on response time

Kristen Olson, Jolene D. Smyth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


In this paper, we evaluate the joint effects of question, respondent, and interviewer characteristics on response time in a telephone survey. We include question features traditionally examined, such as the length of the question and format of response options, and features that have yet to be examined that are related to the layout and format of interviewer administered questions. We examine how these question features affect the time to ask and answer survey questions and how different interviewers vary in their administration of these questions. This paper uses paradata from the Work and Leisure Today survey and uses cross-classified random effects models. Overall, most of the variation in response time is due to question characteristics, rather than respondent or interviewer attributes. Additionally, we find that question characteristics related to necessary survey design features and respondent confusion are the primary predictors of response time, with little effect of visual design features of the question. We also find modest differences in the effects of question characteristics by interviewer experience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)361-396
Number of pages36
JournalJournal of Survey Statistics and Methodology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2015


  • CATI surveys
  • Questionnaire design
  • Response latency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Statistics, Probability and Uncertainty
  • Applied Mathematics


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