the sample member (Schaeffer, 2011). However, the response propensity that the sample member brings to the contact with the interviewer might be modified over the course of the encounter and may affect the leverage that a feature of the survey design has with a respondent. These propensities, and their fluctuations, are difficult to incorporate into practical study designs. However, using conversation analytic techniques, Schaeffer et al. (2013) found that the interactional environment provided by the sample member (encouraging, discouraging, or ambiguous) is a very strong predictor of subsequent participation.
Questions by sample members may provide evidence of their predispositions. Previous studies have identified questions by sample members as predictive of whether the sample member is likely to accept the request to participate. Drawing on interviewers’ descriptions of their interaction with sample members, Groves and Couper (1996), for example, concluded that questions indicate cognitive engagement by the sample member and are associated with an increased likelihood of participation in future contacts. A more recent study that selected pairs of sample members matched on propensity to participate refined this finding. Schaeffer et al. (2013) found that wh-type questions (i.e., questions beginning with “wh,” such as what, why, when) before the request to participate were associated with decreased odds of participating. On the other hand, questions about the length of interview or wh-type questions after the request to participate were associated with increased odds of participating. The predictive value of sample members’ questions is of practical significance because interviewers could be alerted to interpret such questions as a sign that the sample member is positively engaged.
In a new survey, all interviewers begin equal, with no knowledge about the survey; even in existing surveys, experienced interviewers may not clearly recall all the relevant facts. Training provides an opportunity for the survey designers to make the factual information sufficiently salient to interviewers that it can shape their engagement with respondents. If interviewers do not understand a given study, it seems likely that they will be less effective in motivating respondents to participate.
Besides making information mentally accessible, training can help in developing interviewers’ strategies for interactions with respondents. Demonstrations of various approaches can provide models of effective recruitment behavior. Role playing, particularly when accompanied by coaching, can assist in developing confident introductions and delivery of particular arguments. Role playing can be effective both in helping interviewers cope with the stresses of rejection and in learning how to back off gracefully