Participants say the darndest things

Date of publication: May 1, 1994


Media researchers often focus on the need for precise methodological conclusions from large-scale experimental research. In Arbitron's experience, however, many innovations have their roots in a very simple exercise—listening to comments by survey and panel participants. Time and again, participants have led us to think of the survey process in new ways, and their insights have paid off with new techniques that were effective when tested conventionally. The paper begins with a review of literature which discusses respondent perceptions of the survey process. Arbitron’s older research in this area is also summarized. More detail is presented about two recent studies which will shape future research. We present panelist feedback from tests with nonfunctional portable-meter mock-ups, knowledge that is guiding our 1994 research agenda. And we present our latest effort to learn from participant experience, a neural network-based analysis of respondent comments in Arbitron radio diaries.

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