This essay is an investigation into the effects that word choice and context could have on survey outcomes in interview-based research – and the risk they pose to researchers who, if unaware, may gather unrelated data in respect to their research aims. That is what I call ‘semantic surprises’: poor question wording and superficial context analysis could create a gap between the questioner's intention and the interviewee's answer. On the one hand, the inherent complexity of the multi-faceted concept of context calls on researchers to clearly map the sociological coordinates of the research field so that they can avoid asking inappropriate or irrelevant questions. Here contextual effects are shown to change the way questions are interpreted by interviewees, leading them to answer different questions to the ones the researcher intended. On the other hand, questions that are onvoluted, ambiguous or overly technical are shown to cause problems surrounding interpretation for both the interviewer and interviewee. The impact of word choice and contextual effects on questions is largely the same: the question's basic structure remains the same but is interpreted differently by the interviewees and researchers. The subject is illustrated using examples taken from my own experience in empirical research, as well as those of respected social scientists.

Mind the Semantic Surprises! Question Wording and Contextual Effects on Social Research Outcomes

TUSINI S
2014

Abstract

This essay is an investigation into the effects that word choice and context could have on survey outcomes in interview-based research – and the risk they pose to researchers who, if unaware, may gather unrelated data in respect to their research aims. That is what I call ‘semantic surprises’: poor question wording and superficial context analysis could create a gap between the questioner's intention and the interviewee's answer. On the one hand, the inherent complexity of the multi-faceted concept of context calls on researchers to clearly map the sociological coordinates of the research field so that they can avoid asking inappropriate or irrelevant questions. Here contextual effects are shown to change the way questions are interpreted by interviewees, leading them to answer different questions to the ones the researcher intended. On the other hand, questions that are onvoluted, ambiguous or overly technical are shown to cause problems surrounding interpretation for both the interviewer and interviewee. The impact of word choice and contextual effects on questions is largely the same: the question's basic structure remains the same but is interpreted differently by the interviewees and researchers. The subject is illustrated using examples taken from my own experience in empirical research, as well as those of respected social scientists.
File in questo prodotto:
File Dimensione Formato  
Mind the Semantic Surprises! Question Wording and Contextual Effects on Social Research Outcomes.pdf

non disponibili

Licenza: Non specificato
Dimensione 102.87 kB
Formato Adobe PDF
102.87 kB Adobe PDF   Visualizza/Apri   Richiedi una copia

I documenti in IRIS sono protetti da copyright e tutti i diritti sono riservati, salvo diversa indicazione.

Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/20.500.12071/1633
Citazioni
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.pmc??? ND
social impact