Icon of two people sitting in an interview

Interviewer Behaviour and Interviewer Effects

Interviewers are a key part in data collection for face-to-face surveys. The involvement of interviewers in data collection activities means that desirable interviewer behaviour (DIB) is fundamental for collecting high quality and comparable data. All ESS countries are required to conduct face-to-face personal interviews (see Modes of data collection), which makes the promotion of DIB a fundamental part of the core survey activities. For this purpose, the ESS conducts research on:

  • how interviewer behaviour can affect measurement; and
  • how interviewer behaviour can affect the representation of the target population.

The insights gained from this research will be used to implement measures for improving data quality. The research output is categorised in three areas, which are integrated into the survey life cycle:

  • Preparation and prevention, such as survey standards for interviewers' work, training of interviewers for fieldwork, and collecting meaningful paradata fit for the purpose of quality control.
  • Monitoring and detection, such as accuracy, robustness and timeliness of quality checks during fieldwork, development of systems for cross-national monitoring of interviewer activities, and impact of interventions in the field.
  • Assessment and evaluation, such as intra-interviewer correlation of survey measurements, adherence to contact strategies and selection procedures, disentanglement of interviewer effects and area effects, clarification of relation between poor data quality and interviewer behaviour.

As part of our continued work to encourage desirable interviewer behaviour, new indicators have been developed. One of those indicators is the Change of Virtual Surrounding tool. A presentation was delivered by May Dousak (University of Ljubljana) in September 2022 on how the tool works and how it can be implemented:

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Publications on this topic


Loosveldt, G. (2022).
Interviewers and their impact on survey quality: lessons for EU-SILC from the European Social Survey. In: P. Lynn, L. Lyberg (Eds.), Improving the measurement of poverty and social exclusion in Europe: reducing non-sampling errors, Chapt. 28, (401-411). Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union.

Wuyts, C. & Loosveldt, G. (2019).
Quality Matrix for the European Social Survey, Round 8

Working papers

Stoop, I., Briceño-Rosas, R., Koch, A., & Vandenplas, C. (2018).
Data falsification in the European Social Survey?


Loosveldt, G. & Beullens, K. (2017).
Interviewer Effects on Non-Differentiation and Straightlining in the European Social Survey. Journal of Official Statistics, 33 (2), 409–426

Beullens, K. & Loosveldt, G. (2016).
Interviewer Effects in the European Social Survey. Survey Research Methods, 10 (2), 103-118

Beullens, K. & Loosveldt, G. (2014).
Interviewer Effects on Latent Constructs in Survey Research. Journal of Survey Statistics and Methodology, 2 (4), 433-458

Loosveldt, G. & Beullens, K. (2013).
The impact of respondents and interviewers on interview speed in face-to-face interviews. Social Science Research, 42 (6), 1422-1430