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Examining Changes in Filter Question (FQ) Reporting in the Consumer Expenditure Quarterly Interview Survey

Brett McBride


The survey design involving a screener or filter question followed by a series of more detailed questions is used in many surveys. A concern in these surveys is that respondents may learn that reporting a certain answer to a filter question will extend the interview through a series of follow-up questions and thus will alter their responses in a way that avoids their exposure to follow-up questions. Alternatively, the cumulative cognitive burden experienced by respondents after answering many survey questions may be a principal factor in respondent satisficing, and thus measurement error, toward the end of surveys. The exploratory research described in this paper identifies changes in response patterns to filter questions in the Consumer Expenditure Quarterly Interview Survey (CEQ). A model is used to examine the role of respondent characteristics and interview burden measures on declining filter question endorsement rates. Aside from interview content, this research found that respondent characteristics impacting cognitive burden had effects on a declining trend in filter question endorsement rates.