Who has trouble reporting prior day events?

Tim Triplett, Brian Tefft, Rob Santos

Abstract


Research has shown that surveys that require respondents to recall events can be subject to fairly high measurement error.  Recall error tends be less problematic for highly salient events and events that have recently occurred.   However, there is less information on whether some respondents are more or less prone to having problems with answering questions that involve recalling an event.   This research uses data from the American Driving Study where people are asked to report the length of driving trips that they made yesterday.    We analyze of over 16,000 reported driving trips from data collected from 7,913 respondents who reported having been the driver for at least one driving trip on the day before they were interviewed (yesterday). For this analysis, we are concerned with two types of recall problems; 1) the inability of the respondent to provide an estimate of either the length or duration of a driving trip; 2) providing  an estimate of miles driven that is inconsistent given the duration and purpose of the trip.   This paper finds difference in the characteristics of respondents who are more likely to have problems reporting their prior day driving behavior.  But, the main finding is that longer trips were harder to report on and have a bigger impact on key survey estimates.    We conclude with some discussion of important considerations that survey practitioners should keep in mind when designing surveys that include recall questions.

Keywords


Measurement error; recall data; missing data

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