The Action Structure of Recruitment Calls and Its Analytic Implications: The Case of Disfluencies

Bo Hee Min, Nora Cate Schaeffer, Dana Garbarski, Jennifer Dykema

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    We describe interviewers' actions in phone calls recruiting sample members. We illustrate (1) analytic challenges of studying how interviewers affect participation and (2) actions that undergird the variables in our models. We examine the impact of the interviewer's disfluencies on whether a sample member accepts or declines the request for an interview as a case study. Disfluencies are potentially important if they communicate the competence or humanity of the interviewer to the sample member in a way that affects the decision to participate. Using the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study, we find that although as they begin, calls that become declinations are similar to those that become acceptances, they soon take different paths. Considering all recruitment actions together, we find that the ratio of disfluencies to words does not predict acceptance of the request for an interview, although the disfluency ratio before the turning point - request to participate or a declination - of the call does. However, after controlling for the number of actions, the disfluency ratio no longer predicts participation. Instead, when we examine actions before and after the first turning point separately, we find that the number of actions has a positive relationship with participation before and a negative relationship after.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalJournal of Official Statistics
    Issue number3
    Pages (from-to)529-559
    Number of pages31
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 2020


    • Participation
    • Nonresponse
    • Disfluencies
    • Recruitment
    • Survey introduction
    • Interviewer-respondent interaction

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