How to Get Truthful Answers in Sensitive Research (On the methodological potential of the nominative techniquе)

How to Get Truthful Answers in Sensitive Research (On the methodological potential of the nominative techniquе)

Myagkov A.Yu.

Dr. Sci. (Sociol.), Рrof., Ivanovo State Power Engineering University, Ivanovo, Russia

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Myagkov A.Yu. How to Get Truthful Answers in Sensitive Research (On the methodological potential of the nominative techniquе). Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniya [Sociological Studies]. 2023. No 5. P. 26-36


The article is devoted to the description and analysis of the nominative technique, which belongs to the class of non-randomized survey models designed to obtain sincere answers from respondents in research on sensitive issues. Theoretical origins and methodological foundations of the nominative technique are analyzed. Its connection with the methods of multiplicity and the theory of network samples by M. Sirken is traced. A detailed description of the two main versions of the analyzed technique is given: the early one, presented by the «three closest friends of the respondents» method, proposed in the 1970s by M. Sirken, and the later, developed by J. Miller in the middle 1980s taking into account the volume and depth of the respondents’ social networks, as well as information about the deviance of ”significant others“. The organizational, technical and methodological features of these versions are shown. Methods for statistical assessment of the prevalence of the studied types of social deviations for both described models are presented. The advantages and disadvantages, possibilities and limitations of the nominative technique, as well as the conditions for its reliable application are discussed. The results of empirical studies are presented, indicating the superiority of this technique over the self-report method in terms of the reliability and quality of the data obtained. The conclusion is made about the expediency of its use when discussing sensitive issues and topics with respondents.

nominative technique; sensitive research; indirect questioning techniques; shadow sample; sincerity of answers; social desirability; validity of data


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Content No 5, 2023