|dc.description.abstract||The appearance of a team of interviewers among the population of a small community, uncustomed to surveys, may influence the behaviour of respondents. It is probable that rumours about the contents and purpose of interviewing will be circulated reflecting the community’s expectations and anxieties. Depending on the subject matter of such rumours and the speed with which they are disseminated a bias may appear in the answers of a considerable number of respondents in the sample.
To control the rumours about interviewing special arrangements were made in a survey conducted in a small town: 1. several disguised “reconnaissance interviews” were made at the beginning of field work to check whether the population took note of previous pilot interviewing, 2. permanent contacts were sustained with a group of local informants during the whole period of field work, 3. at the end of each interview each respondent was asked informally if he had had any contact with anybody already interviewed and what that person had told him about interviewing.
Using the materials so collected it was found out that: 1. after 11 days of interviewing 42% in the sample had some contact with the rumours, younger persons and those with higher educational attainment having been more susceptible to such a contact, 2. no dominant theme appeared in the rumours; most often (33°/o) they did not contain any specific knowledge about the purpose of interviewing, in spite of interviewers’ informing their respondents that “it was aimed at preparing a study about the living conditions in the community”; the latter theme appeared only very rarely (15°/o), 3. except one question concerning future changes in the community’s living conditions, no statistically significant differences appeared between answers to three chosen questions, given by those who did and did not have any contact with the rumours.||