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Global Challenges Doctoral Centre

Sensitive Questioning Techniques

This lecture looks at how to ask questions around a sensitive or illicit behaviour using a range of quantitative methods. Asking direct questions about such behaviours is challenging as respondents may fear potentially negative outcomes. A range of Sensitive Questioning Techniques have been developed that provide additional respondent protection. Here we will focus on two of the most popular methods, the Unmatched Count Technique and the Randomised Response Technique.

Led by: Dr David Roberts, School of Anthropology and Conservation

This session will discuss:

  • What are Sensitive Questioning Techniques (SQTs)
  • How they differ from assurances of anonymity
  • How they have been used in previous studies
  • Types of SQTs methods with a deeper focus on two methods
  • Unmatched Count Technique (aka List Experiment)
  • Randomised Response Technique
  • Types of randomising devices and potential issues
  • Measure sensitive of the behaviour

Prerequisites: participants would benefit from having a basic knowledge of quantitative method before attending this course.

For further reading, see:

  • Blair et al. (2015) Design and analysis of the randomized response technique. Journal of the American Statistical Association 110:1304-1319.
  • Chaudhuri & Christofides (2013) Indirect questioning in sample surveys. Springer Science & Business Media.
  • Glynn (2013) What can we learn with statistical truth serum? Design and analysis of the list experiment. Public Opinion Quarterly 77:159-172.
  • Nuno & St John (2015) How to ask sensitive questions in conservation: A review of specialized questioning techniques. Biological Conservation 189:5-15.

Watch the training video here (Kent access only)