Sensitive Questions in Online Surveys: Experimental Results for the Randomized Response Technique (RRT) and the Unmatched Count Technique (UCT)
AbstractGaining valid answers to so-called sensitive questions is an age-old problem in survey research. Various techniques have been developed to guarantee anonymity and minimize the respondent's feelings of jeopardy. Two such techniques are the randomized response technique (RRT) and the unmatched count technique (UCT). In this study we evaluate the effectiveness of different implementations of the RRT (using a forced-response design) in a computer-assisted setting and also compare the use of the RRT to that of the UCT. The techniques are evaluated according to various quality criteria, such as the prevalence estimates they provide, the ease of their use, and respondent trust in the techniques. Our results indicate that the RRTs are problematic with respect to several domains, such as the limited trust they inspire and non-response, and that the RRT estimates are unreliable due to a strong false "no" bias, especially for the more sensitive questions. The UCT, however, performed well compared to the RRTs on all the evaluated measures. The UCT estimates also had more face validity than the RRT estimates. We conclude that the UCT is a promising alternative to RRT in self-administered surveys and that future research should be directed towards evaluating and improving the technique.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by ETH Zurich, Chair of Sociology in its series ETH Zurich Sociology Working Papers with number 3.
Length: 34 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2008
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sensitive questions; online survey; randomized response technique; unmatched count technique; item count technique; methodological experiment;
Other versions of this item:
- Elisabeth Coutts & Ben Jann, 2011. "Sensitive Questions in Online Surveys: Experimental Results for the Randomized Response Technique (RRT) and the Unmatched Count Technique (UCT)," Sociological Methods & Research, , vol. 40(1), pages 169-193, February.
- C42 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods: Special Topics - - - Survey Methods
- C81 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Methodology for Collecting, Estimating, and Organizing Microeconomic Data
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- Gueorguiev, Dimitar & Malesky, Edmund, 2012. "Foreign investment and bribery: A firm-level analysis of corruption in Vietnam," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 111-129.
- Elisabeth Coutts† & Ben Jann & Ivar Krumpal & Anatol-Fiete Naeher, 2011. "Plagiarism in Student Papers: Prevalence Estimates Using Special Techniques for Sensitive Questions," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), Justus-Liebig University Giessen, Department of Statistics and Economics, vol. 231(5-6), pages 749-760, November.
- Peter Preisendörfer, 2008. "Heikle Fragen in mündlichen Interviews: Ergebnisse einer Methodenstudie im studentischen Milieu (Sensitive Questions in Face-to-Face Interviews: Findings of a Methodological Study with University Stu," ETH Zurich Sociology Working Papers 6, ETH Zurich, Chair of Sociology.
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