tions regarding same-sex sexual experiences to interviewers of their own gender. Another study examined whether the gender of the voice in ACASI might affect responses to a set of sensitive questions asked of young adults. The finding suggests that female interviewers may get more accurate reports (Dykema et al., 2012, p. 312):
[There were] higher levels of engagement in the behaviors and more consistent reporting among males when responding to a female voice, indicating that males were potentially more accurate when reporting to the female voice. Reports by females were not influenced by the voice’s gender.
A standard operational practice on surveys of sexual conduct or violence has been to use female interviewers. Female interviewers were used exclusively in the National Women’s Study, the National College Women Sexual Victimization Study, and the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (discussed in Chapter 5). The National Violence Against Women Study (discussed in Chapter 5) incorporated a test of interviewer gender, using female interviewers for female respondents, and using both male and female interviews for male respondents (Tjaden and Thoennes, 2000). The NCVS uses mostly, but not exclusively, female interviewers.8 The panel agrees with this standard practice, but believes that additional research is needed for definitive answers regarding the effect of an interviewer’s gender separate from other factors. Survey organizations are increasingly coding the demographic characteristics of interviewers (such as gender and age) that might affect recruiting and response quality so that possible effects can be more thoroughly studied. The results from these efforts will be important for the design of all surveys on sensitive topics.
Training and Preparation
Interviewers need to receive high-quality training to reduce interviewer effects and deliver survey responses of high quality. The Census Bureau understands this important aspect of the survey process and strives to train its field representatives appropriately for these complex surveys. However, there are two issues with the training provided to interviewers on the NCVS: overall training and the rarity of the incidents of interest.
The first issue is that the overall training effort on the NCVS has been inadequate. Refresher training of interviewers on the NCVS was eliminated during a 10-year period due to budget restrictions. The agencies acknowledged the problem (U.S. Census Bureau and Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2011a, pp. 1-5):
8The Census Bureau faces issues related to equal employment opportunities when considering hiring based on gender.