Rapport and Its Impact on the Disclosure of Sensitive Information in Standardized Interviews
Conrad, Frederick G.
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Although there is no universally accepted way to define and operationalize rapport, the general consensus is that it can have an impact on survey responses, potentially affecting their quality. Moderately sensitive information is often asked in the interviewer-administered mode of data collection. Although rapport-related verbal behaviors have been found to increase the disclosure of moderately sensitive information in face-to-face interactions, it is unknown if rapport can be established to the same extent in video-mediated interviews, leading to similar levels of disclosure. Highly sensitive information is usually collected via self-administered modes of data collection. For some time, audio computer-assisted self-interviewing (ACASI) has been seen as one of the best methods for collecting sensitive information. Typically, the respondent first answers questions about nonsensitive topics in computer-assisted personal interviewing (CAPI) and is then switched to ACASI for sensitive questions. None of the existing research has investigated the possibility that the interviewer-respondent interaction, prior to the ACASI questions, may affect disclosures in ACASI. This dissertation used a laboratory experiment that was made up of two related studies, aiming at answering these questions. The first study compares video-mediated interviews with CAPI to investigate whether rapport can be similarly established in video-mediated interviews, leading to similar levels of disclosure. There was no significant difference in rapport ratings between video-mediated and CAPI interviews, suggesting no evidence that rapport is any better established in CAPI than video-mediated interviews. Compared with CAPI, higher disclosure of moderately sensitive information was found in video-mediated interviews, though the effects were only marginally significant. The second study examines whether the interviewer-respondent interaction, prior to the ACASI questions, may affect disclosure in ACASI. There was no significant difference on disclosure between the same voice and the different voice condition. However, there were marginally significant carryover effects of rapport in the preceding module on disclosure in the subsequent ACASI module. Respondents who experienced high rapport in the preceding module gave more disclosure in the subsequent ACASI module. Furthermore, compared with ACASI, the percentage of reported sensitive behaviors was higher for video-mediated interviews for some of the highly sensitive questions.