Unmatched count technique:
experience of experimental testing
Dr. Sci. (Sociol.), Full Prof., Ivanovo State Power Engineering University, Ivanovo, Russia firstname.lastname@example.org
The article is devoted to the experimental evaluation of the effectiveness of unmatched count technique (UCT) often used in research practice to obtain more valid answers of respondents to sensitive questions but which didn’t gain systematic application in Russian sociology. The description of the general procedure and the basic principles of UCT is given, the results of some validation studies conducted in the western science in recent years are stated. Data of a methodological experiment undertaken by the author in 2011 in Ivanovo are analyzed. Experiment was organized on the principle of three-section splitballot (N=100+100+100) followed by procedures of competitive validation. Surveys were conducted by telephone interview in traditional and experimental (UCT) forms. Respondents were selected from electronic database of telephone subscribers of the city. Evaluation of the effectiveness of UCT produced by a comparative analysis of respondents’ self-reports on the questions about the deviant behavior (alcohol abuse, bribes, adultery, etc.) that have been included explicitly in conventional telephone interview and in the interview using indirect method of the unmatched count technique. Empirical evidence suggesting the obvious superiority of the tested techniques over the traditional form of telephone interviews on a range of indicators are provided. At UCT respondents more likely to report their involvement in social disapproved and illegal behaviors, exhibited greater confidence in anonymity of the survey, rarely felt a sense of awkwardness and embarrassment, answering stigmatized questions, felt sensitivity of the issues discussed. The study shows that alternative strategy of telephone interviewing is trusted more by women, and older age cohorts, while men, young and middle-aged people are less sensitive to the conditions of anonymity and survey method. The experimental results also indicate existence of a specific male and female tabooed issues in surveys. In conclusion it is stated that the unmatched count technique is a very promising tool to improve validity of respondents’ answers in a telephone interview.