Revisiting Respondent “Fatigue Bias” in the National Crime Victimization Survey
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For more than three decades the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS)—and its predecessor the National Crime Survey (NCS)—have been used to calculate estimates of nonfatal crime in the United States. Though the survey has contributed much to our understanding of criminal victimization, some aspects of the survey’s methodology continue to be analyzed (e.g., repeat victimizations, proxy interviews, and bounding). Surprisingly, one important aspect of NCVS methodology has escaped this scrutiny: respondent fatigue. A potential source of nonsampling error, fatigue bias is thought to manifest as respondents become “test wise” after repeated exposure to NCVS survey instruments. Using a special longitudinal NCVS data file, we revisit the presence and influence of respondent fatigue in the NCVS. Specifically, we test the theory that respondents exposed to longer interviews during their first interview are more likely to refuse to participate in the survey 6 months later. Contrary to expectations based on the literature, results show that prior reporting of victimization and exposure to a longer interview is not a significant predictor of a noninterview during the following time-in-sample once relevant individual characteristics are accounted for. Findings do demonstrate significant effects of survey mode and several respondent characteristics on subsequent survey non-participation.
Journal of Quantitative Criminology
Causes and Prevention of Crime