The Third-person Effect in Survey Interview
Interviewers are trained to conduct private interviews but would find that the presence of others in practice is hard to avoid. Despite of divergent conclusion, most of the previous studies support the importance of the third-person effect. This study examines the extent to which the presence of the third-person affects survey response across three types of questions concerning family, marriage and gender roles respectively Characterized by fact, sensitivity, and social desiribility attributes.
The data analyzed is from Social Change Survey conducted in 1996. The quality of response to factual questions is found better than that to other types of questions. However, logistic regression analysis shows that the presence of the third-person does not affect the quality of response to three types of questions. On the other hand, the actual response to factual and sensitive questions varies with the presence of the third-person. The third-person effect does not happen to the response to the questions with social desirability.
This study does not fully support the hypotheses that the third-person would affect the quality of response and actual response to sensitive and social desirable questions more than that to factual questions. However, it the findings does not totally reject the third-person effect. In conclusion, theoretical development and empirical studies on the third-person effect are needed in the future.