Recall Bias

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Error caused by inaccurate or incomplete recollection of events. A particular concern for retrospective survey questions.

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  • Lower salience and longer recall periods increase forgetfulness [1]
  • How long is "too long" for a recall period for a survey question? It depends on the type of event: infrequent events (e.g. purchases of major assets) will be memorable for longer periods of time than routine events (e.g. use of public transportation).


How to avoid?

Useful strategies:

  1. Where possible, use methods to reduce recall periods for key indicators. For example, more frequent follow-up surveys by phone, or personal diaries
  2. When Piloting your Survey, carefully test different recall periods; if possible try shorter and longer periods and check for differences in variance

Subsection 2

Subsection 3

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This article is part of the topic Questionnaire Design

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