Weiss Issues in Interviewing
Weiss, R. S. (1994). Learning from strangers: The art and method of qualitative interview studies. New York: The Free Press.
Chapter 5: Issues in Interviewing
The Effects of Interviewing on Respondent and Interviewer
What Is It Like to be a Respondent?
- "In large measure, interviewing provides respondents with an opportunity to talk about matters of emotional importance while remaining at an emotional middle distance: close enough to the emotions to experience them but distant enough to maintain self control (p. 123)."
- The respondent often gets the benefit of reflecting on the experience. Verbalizing the event allows for a deeper reflection and understanding of the phenomena on the respondent's part.
- What Is It Like to be a Respondent?
- What Is It Like to Sit and Listen?
- "My aim is to enable myself to emotionally understand someone's account without allowing my attention to be captured by my own feelings and thoughts (p. 126)."
- The relationship between the interviewer and the respondent is a research partnership.
- If the information provided indicates that others will get hurt, then you must act as an ordinary citizen would and inform the appropriate individuals.
Research Interviewing and Therapeutic Intervention
- Although research interviewing may seem like therapeutic intervention, it is not. The goals are different; the material obtained is different; and the roles of the researcher and respondent are different.
- If a Respondent Has Need of Clinical Services
Matching Interviewers to Respondents
- The author advises caution when interviewing colleagues and advises against interviewing family members.
- Socioeconomic Status
- Race and Ethnicity
- Race, sex, ethnicity, and age do not appear to affect the interviews.
- The Unresponsive Respondent
The Respondent Determined to Present a Particular Picture
- "When a respondent wants you to believe something that is different from what actually happened, the respondent is likely to avoid providing detail and to frustrate your efforts to elicit detail (p. 142)."
- Problem Respondents
- People Whose Feelings Are Raw
- If I Weren't in This Situation, You Wouldn't Want to Interview Me
- The Presence of Others
- If others are present, include them.
- Interviewing Failures
- What To Do When an Interview Is Going Badly?
Issues of Validity: Do Respondents Tell the Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing but the Truth?
- "Shading responses to present a positive picture of the self is especially likely when respondents are asked about opinion, attitudes, appraisals, evaluations, values, or beliefs (p. 149)."
- "Information is context dependent - that is, shaped in part by the interview situation when it is free of anchors in observations of events (p. 149)."
- "Despite all the ways in which interview material can be problematic, richly detailed accounts of vividly remembered events are likely to be trustworthy. Nor does apparent inconsistency always demonstrate invalidity. After all, people can act in inconsistent ways or maintain inconsistent feelings (p. 150)."
- "Ultimately, our best guarantee of the validity of interview material is careful, concrete level, interviewing within the context of a good interviewing partnership (p. 150)."