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Designing an Instrument For Computer‐Assisted Data Collection in the Current Population Survey

Cathryn S. Dippo


Over the last decade, there have been two new factors that have significantly influenced the design of survey data collection—the computer and the theories and methods of cognitive psychology. Computers were first used by U. S. market research firms in the early 1970s to aid in the collection of data by telephone. Since then, numerous computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI) systems have been developed. With the proliferation of light-weight portable computers over the last few years, the development of computer-assisted personal interviewing (CAPI) has proceeded rapidly. These, plus other computer-assisted survey information-collection methods, are referred to as CASIC. The application of the theories and methods of cognitive psychology to survey methodology was promoted by a U.S. National Academy of Sciences panel on the cognitive aspects of survey methodology (CASM) in their 1983 report. Subsequently, many of the major U.S. federal statistical agencies and numerous private survey organizations established "cognitive laboratories," which are used in questionnaire development and for researching other aspects of survey methodology.